DISCUSSION ON ASPECTS OF INDO-EUROPEAN PAGAN LORE
Victor Rydberg: although he and other scholars have been neglected due to the
naturalist, evolutionist, and functionalist approaches to the history of
religion, his methodology is spot on from the history of religion approach
coming out of Wach, Eliade, Nygren (and the Swedish school), and their students
in properly taking a historicial approach to the history of religion.
I also think and am prepared to argue that Rydberg's thesis of a meta-narrative
or saga from beginning to end of the world is, indeed, an Indo-European legacy
stemming from Proto-Indo-European times. The fact that relatively large chunks
of narratival epic stories in some shared order of narratival or plot continuity
in later Indo-European cultures' epics indicates, to my mind, a common shared
body of legends sharing a common plot structure reflectin a "proto-epic" or
As to elves, a friend of mine was working on a
comparison of Vedic and Germanic elves some years ago. I'll see what he has. It
was sparked partly by comparative work on the Zoroastrian Fravashi and the
Germanic Valkyrie within a larger investigation of working out the relation
between asuras, devas, daityas, and danavas in Indo-Iranian materials (Vedic,
Tajik, Avestan, Armenian). Basically, the older generation of gods were an
interdependent family of the forces of creation and destruction (sort of like
the sephiroth in cabala). These were the asuras.
But something happened (which involves the world mill, the fall of Yima/Yama,
the mortal wounding of the cosmic bovine, and attack on the cosmic plant/tree as
parts of the same event). There was a split among the asuras. The asuras that
were of the forces of birth, growth, creation and the asuras that were,
according to rta, the forces of destruction, decay, and transformation split.
The asuras that formerly were rightly the forces of destruction, according to
rta, became the daityas or danavas (who are described as former asuras, fallen
gods from of old, gods who lost the status as asuras three ages before the birth
of the warrior and mortal gods of heaven, the devas). Part of the damage control
of this catastrophic event was the warrior gods, the mortal gods of heaven,
became the guardian gods that re-ordered the three worlds into something like a
protected as well as fortified place. Sometimes, their actions were at odds with
the older powers. And
so, we find a time of conflict or war between the new devas and older asuras
(who are still good). But against the fallen asuras, the daityas and danavas,
both the asuras and devas are resolutely united. And there is a coming and final
battle when the need for, era of, and reign of the devas will either pass or be
Interesting that the gods mostly die in Ragnarok and the Indo-Iranian materials
refer to them as "mortal gods" and a "temporary rulers". The unfallen asuras
look very much like the Vanir. The Daityas and Danavas look very much like two
races of giants.
Now within this context of investigation, it seemed that both Vedic elves and
Germanic elves were older cousins of humankind. They could intermarry and have
offspring. They could form bonds of friendship but there was also an element of
mutual distrust between the two races (reflecting Asuras and Devas, Vanir
and the Aesir) stemming from these groups having different sets of priorities.
Humans appear to be on friendlier terms with the devas than the elves. Moreover,
the elves in both appear to be more associated with the Asuras/Vanir and appear
to be, more or less, allies with the devas/Aesir. And they are artisans,
co-workers with the Asuras. A central concept more tightly associated with the
Asuras/Vanir and elves in both traditions is maya (magical power).
That there is a multi-generational genealogy of gods seems to be reinforced by
the Celtic material although it has been reworked to fit the medieval saga motif
with less of the Rome/Troy ideology imposed on it.
Other suggested discoveries (in terms of probabilities): Vata-Vayu in
Indo-Iranian material also appears with the nicknames Rudra and Siva (later the
great god besides Visnu of later Hinduism). The Maruts/wildhunt belong to
Rudra/Siva/Vata-Vayu and are loaned to Indra. The suggestion by Rydberg that
Vata-Vayu is Odin seems well confirmed. In addition, the association of
berserker and fury with Odin is also found with Vata-Vayu-Siva-Rudra.
Vata-Vayu-Siva-Rudra provide Indra with isma. Isma is the power to have great
strength and near invincibility in battle. It is also the power of
shape-shifting. According to the warrior clan-fraternity berserkers are
initiated into, one shape-shifts into one's totem animal: vervraka (werewolf),
berserkir (bear), and the wild boar (found amongst the Anglo-Saxons). In Persia,
isma is asma. As divine wrath/fury, it is Aeshmadeva. With the Zoroastrian
reform, Aeshmadeva became demonized. In Jewish-Christian traditions,
Aeshmadeva is the demon Asmodeus.
These berserker warriors, in actual combat, functioned a lot like our special
forces. They infiltrated enemy ranks and created all sorts of death and mayhem
behind the enemies lines while acting as scouts and spies. Then there were the
more soldierly warriors (under Indra/Thor) usually associated with the war
chariots and orderly formations.
In Tajik, Vedic, Iranian, and Armenian materials, the high asura, guardian of
rta, is Dyauspitar (from where we get Jupiter, Tyr) named Varuna. While still
the high god and father of justice, to consolidate the relation between the
older asuras and young devas, he "incarnates" and is reborn as one of the devas.
Lithuanians, Tajiks, and Azeris (plus the arewordi of Armenia) thus speak of Tyr
as father of the gods and as the son of the devas. This might clarify some of
the "contradictions" about Tyr. As born among the devas, he is sometimes
referred to as the "one handed one from on high who is companion and friend to
the one eyed leader" when the legitimacy of the devas is challenged.
Some of the gods names are titles of office so to speak, such as Dyauspitar,
while others are names. As we can see even in the Mahabharata, even humans, like
Arjuna, have multiple names tied to different feats they have done in the past
that reflect aspects of their character or nicknames bringing out different
aspects of their personalities. So, Rydberg's polynomial hypothesis seems well
The two lines I have been working on recently are:
1. The fires. We find a fairly tight correlation in the sacrificial fires in
terms of number, construction and shape, and orientation from Vedic India, to
Rome, to German, Celtic, Swedish and Baltic cultic sites. There are three fires
oriented on a mainly east-west axis (one fire, the guardian fire, is either
southwest or northeast of the western hearth fire). The first fire is the hearth
fire and it is round and is always west. The second fire is the guardian fire
either set south or north of the hearth fire. It is always triangular/crescent.
The sacrificial fire is east of the hearth fire (all fires are lit from the
hearth fire) and is square. Many sites have a hole where something like a
totem-pole may have stood due east of the sacrificial fire.
2. Northern traditions as shared: our labels of Celtic, Germanic, Baltic tend to
reinforce an illusion these distincts are as insular and water tight as our
labels might seem. We have a number of cultic sites that were shared (west,
Celtic-German sites shared -- east, German-Baltic sites shared, a cultic site
controlled by German rulers but manned by Celtic priests, a Baltic site with
Swedes as its high priests appointed by the Baltic tribes, cultic sites with
offerings from Balts, Germans, Celts, and Sarmatians (pagan Iranians who
migrated north who apparently maintained the pre-Zoroastrian Iranian religion.
Some served in the Roman cavalry and ended up in Britain it seems. Others
migrated into present day Russia, Prussia, Sweden/Finland and served with the
pagan Lavonian Knights in the defeat of the Teutonic Knights at Tannenberg in
I posted a summary of some lines of investigation earlier today. If I can find it, I'll post soon a piece (or I'll reproduce the notes to it) on the possible interconnections of the legend of Yima/Yama, Arthur, Graal (Yima's/Yama's serving cup is sometimes called a well at one root of the cosmic tree), the Round (Round Table, the Central Asian Buddhist Wheel of Life), Yima's/Yama's underworld vara in the north during a harsh winter-age, and why the Zoroastrians have 2 New Year celebrations in their liturgical calendar -- one, Nowruz looking back to the fall of Yima, and the other, Mihragan, that looks forward to the final battle/renewal of the world. In the Indo-Iranian materials, this same legend is supposed to tell about the origin of dragons born from the fall of Yima/Yama. In the oldest strata, Yima/Yama is the ancestor-archetype of humankind (and/or human-like kind in some variats), gayomaretan is not a person but the mortalized life the results as a condition resulting from the fall of Yima/Yama, and the two later ancestors of the human race, born of plants -- are also called Mah and Mahya (the Zoroastrian nickname for the moon as a source of lunacy and lunatics) -- so humans are not quite right after the fall of Yima/Yama. This leads to the opening of two main paths in the afterlife, the southwestern way of the fathers to Yima/Yama's underworld vara in the north under Mt Hara, and the way of the gods and heroes toward the celestial north, either to live on the cosmic mountain of the north, Mt Hara, with the devas till the end of time, or beyond the cosmic mountain through true north to a higher world and exit from this one. The two postmortem paths roughly correlate to the twofold ancestry of the human race in Indo-Iranian materials - regaining the glory of Yima/Yama or the lunacy of Mah/Mahya.
One line I've been investigating is traces of this twofold ancestry and twofold postmortem paths in western IE and Germanic materials but that is in its beginning stages. Currently, I'm reading Littleton's book on Arthur, the Graal, and the Sarmatians as part of that project.
Second, the issue about Christian influence is actually quite easily settled in two ways. I can post more on this issue later. First find IE material with the same themes that either (1) demonstratively predates Christianity. (2) has not been in contact with Christianity, or (3) both. If it can (and it can), then the thesis of Christian influence is greatly weakened in the case of IE material handled or preserved within a Christian context. Second, I mentioned Aeshmadeva becoming Asmodeus in my last post. In broad strokes, the historical development of Judaism as a religion is divided into 3 or 4 major phases: Pre-exilic Judaism (where Yahweh is a national and tribal god of the Jews, no creation myth or Genesis, no end of the world, cosmic battle, or devil as Yahweh's opponet motifs), Exilic Judaism (where it falls under the influence of Zoroastrianism, including the incorporation of Zoroastrian terms, Persian words, into the next phase of the OT and the emergence of IE material, in Zoroastrian form, in Judaism -- Yahweh is creator, universal God, cosmic battle between good and evil, Satan as God's opponent, and a Messiah coming for the climactic battle -- all Zoroastrian themes), and Post-exilic Judaism (with the same Zoroastrian themes). The so-called fourth phase is after the destruction of the second temple
Here is somewhat over simplified overview of the historical development of a theory of mythology. Partly in answer to WX's post, if the function of myth is to connect the beginnings and ends of things with the middle, it has to be a complete saga: beginning, middle, end. Apart from a general theory about the nature of myth, there are many historical and empirical arguments that a unified saga is an IE legacy.
Anyway, a theory of myth.
Historically, the academic study of religion has not been good to myth and mythology. Unexamined biases and cultural agendas prejudiced the study of religion to the extent that it involved a study of myth. Some of these culturally inherited set of biases are older than the discipline of the study of religion (as opposed to studying religion in divinity to become clergy).
An early denigration of myth was in pagan Greek philosophy. The Hellenic sense of time was that it was tragic in nature. With the rise of philosophy there arose the Greek spiritual quest to deny that time and the tragic were ultimately real. This involved a philosophical denial that story, narrative, drama, and time were ultimately real. This quest led in turn to a denigration of myth. Myth, because it was narratival, story, and dramatic, also had to be less than real. If not a lie, it was inferior to real knowledge. For example, in the works of Plato, myth is inferior opinion about mere appearances compared to the timeless and storyless contemplative knowledge of the ever unchanging Forms. Another example, in the work of Aristotle, while logic and metaphysics (the study of the nature of Being itself) are \93first philosophy\94, ethics, politics, and rhetoric (which includes the study of story and drama) are denigrated in being designated as \93second philosophy\94. Predicates assigned to the divine were negative concepts with no positive content. The gods and goddesses were a-thanatoi (not mortal). Eternity came to mean timeless and storyless rather than everlasting. So any suggestion that myth might reflect a deeper structural dynamic in Being, that reality might really be story-like in nature, never arose and was never considered because a key motivating presupposition (or delusional need) of this spiritual quest was that story was unreal.
The second trend that builds upon the Greek philosophical denigration of myth with a new twist is the coming of Christianity. Christian apologetics depended upon an educated Greek populace to play the Greek philosophy card with a new twist. The new twist was that while pagan religions were mythic, Christianity was literally historically true. In contrast to pagan mythic religions, Christianity by contrast was grounded in actual historical events. Or so the story goes, closer examination of the formation of the New Testament reveals scanty shreds of authentic historical material about Jesus being woven into a major mythic story (where most of the events and saying attributed to Jesus never historically happened and he never historically said \96 Jesus is almost completely a fabrication of the church \96 300 years of New Testament research has reached a consensus on). In the denigrated sense of myth inherited from Greek philosophy and Christianity, there is overwhelmingly more myth in the story of Jesus as Christ and almost no historical material reflecting the real Jesus of Nazareth in the Christian myth. In the denigrated sense of myth used within Christianity, there really is no longer a viable contrast between the alleged historicity of the founding events of Christianity and the alleged mythic status of paganism. In the denigrated sense of the Christian use of the word myth, Christianity is as much myth as the so-called mythic religions against which it falsely contrasts itself sharply with.
Inheriting the first two trends and partly building upon them while reacting against them, there originated the academic study of religion. At first this took the form of a rationalistic reduction of religion in the Enlightenment. The past (including religions) was superstitious and the present is our opportunity to progress towards a more enlightened future. For the leaders of the Enlightenment who were religious, this broader cultural project involved a rationalist reconstruction of historical religions into a rational religion of morals that all rational humans of good will could agree upon. The main form this project of reconstructing religion took was Deism. Needless to say, unless a myth helped teach a moral lesson within this allegedly new religion of reason (ethical reason), it was superstition. Story, narrative, and thus, myth were not part of the essential core of true religion. Plus if one was only going to look at indivdual stories for their moral lesson one was not looking for a bigger story. It was a mere ornament serving the essential core of the nature of true religion, namely, morality, or myth was superstition. Admiring classical antiquity, the Enlightenment, especially in its quest for a rational and universal religion without myth, was a return to pagan Greek philosophy and culture.
There was a solid beginning made at this time in collecting, documenting, and translating the basic \93data\94, so to speak, for comparative analyses of religions in the attempt to construct a general theory of religion from a broader and better \93data-base\94, so to speak, than had ever been available before.
After the Enlightenment, a second phase in the development of the academic study of religion arose that did make significant contributions towards both a general theory of religion and of myth. This was the Romantic movement. We will return to it later. For now, let us just say the Vicktor Rydberg was part of this school of thought and that it was quickly supplanted by new trends reflecting new cultural agendas in the West.
Romanticism was basically supplanted because it was a religious approach to the study of religion. These new 19th century trends shared one thing in common. They were overly impressed with physical science and the values of the Enlightenment. As a result, predominantly non-religious approaches developed a reductionist approach to religion and myth as either \93merely\94 ancient na\EFve science (where myth incorporated primitive cosmology and gods represented natural forces) or in terms of a positivist (Comte) evolutionary model (social Darwinist) that generally looked at animism as the first primitive stage of religion, then polytheism, then monotheism, and finally leading either to a rational scientific religion of the future (continuing the Deist project) or to a completely secular future in which religion (even its highest form) died out as scientific materialism replaced religion. Instead of explaining religion, the goal was to explain-away religion. While these approaches had several variations, the basic strategy was to reduce elements of myth to someting else. There was not an attempt to look at myth as a whole story. When the obvious flaws in these approaches could no longer be ignored, the reductionist and non-religious approach to religion (on the presupposition that there almost certainly was not a transcendent dimension and religion could not literally be true \96 literally be a means to understand and connect with the deeper dimensions of reality) turned to explain (explain away) religion and myth in terms of its social function following the structuralist and functionalist models of the behavioral and social sciences. Despite these changing cultural fads in academia, there nevertheless were valuable contributions in the growth of our knowledge of world religions and languages. Since religion does have important social functions, insights into the nature of religion and myth were gained.
Meanwhile, out of Romanticism and a growing number of scholars who thought a nonreductionist approach to religion (a religious study of religion) there developed the History of Religions as a discipline. For the sake of argument, it was argued, the proper study of religion or any particular religion was to treat it \93as if\94 it were true \96 how was it lived and experienced by its adherents. To cut a long story short, out of this new academic approach to the study of religion (actually, this approach develops steam beginning in the early 1900s and is now over a 100 years old), what I think is a proper understanding of myth developed. It is a summary of that understanding of myth I shall now undertake.
Part of this new endeavor was influenced by the work of the romantic school (to which Rydberg belonged) and their exegetical methods of dealing with religious materials (which the romantics developed out of radical Protestant exegetical and hermeneutical principles dealing with biblical passages, and then, classical material \96 until it evolved into a general methodology) without the elaborate metaphysics characteristic of German idealism (coming out of Eckhart and Boehme, Oetinger, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and von Baader).
An interesting aside: although he puts it in a theosophical (not Blavatsky\92s) evolutionary model where humankind\92s religious development spiritually evolves from polytheism into monotheism into monistic pantheism that was quickly challenged as problematic, the German philosopher Schelling did have an interesting discussion to the effect that polytheism had been treated unfairly because if the Christian trinity is three persons sharing one divine substance/nature or unity of will there was no reason one could not have a whole pantheon of many persons sharing one divine substance/nature or unity of will such as found in varieties of polytheism. He also noted how the \93manifestations\94 or \93potencies of the divine\94 even within monotheistic religions could be interpreted as polytheistic in reality and practice while being denied in theology. Following up on Schelling, some 20th century psychologists and theologians (such as the Jungian analyst James Hillman and the theologian David Miller) argued that contrary to officially sanctioned monotheistic appearances we were polytheistic in actual practice (see Hillman\92s Revisioning Psychology and Miller\92s The New Polytheism).
It was also partly informed by the work of the psychologist C.G.Jung (who comes out of the romantic tradition also). The three main flaws with the Jungian theory were the archetypes and myths were just depth structures of the psyche but not the depth structures of Being (subjective and objective existence, microcosm and macrocosm). It was psychology rather than ontology (this criticism is also made within the Jungian camp by Edinger in Ego and Archetype). Second, his theory of individuation is itself a model unknowingly based upon a particular mythic paradigm that when used as a general exegetical model, sort of distorts material in cookie cutter fashion. Third, his theory of individuation has a problematic relation with morals and ethics. Religious and spiritual development includes moral development (practice and perfection of virtues). Dealing with narcissistic personalities (patients) in developing his theories, Jung developed a theory of individuation that is narcissistic. It is almost cosmic blackmail in its unintended ethical implications. Instead of the normal religious promise become virtuous and your eternal meaning and value will accrue to you, Jung\92s theory of individuation reverses it, in effect, give me my meaning and value, give me my validation first, and then, I will be a good and virtuous person (see the criticisms of Jungian psychology on this last point in the moral development psychological theory of Harvard psychologist Kohlberg, the religious development psychological model of Fowler, the books Jung in Context by Peter Homan and Becoming a Self by Moseley).
An influential figure in the study of myth is Joseph Campbell. In the Occidental Mythology of his multi-volume work Masks of God, he claimed that myth had four functions: metaphysical, cosmological, sociological, and psychological. The model proposed below from the History of Religion drops the cosmological function. While many myths and mythologies around the world provide a cosmological component, not all of them do \96 thus, the second function is not universal, and thus, cannot be part of a universal theory of myth (some nonreductionist theories can require too little to fit the \93data\94 and some can require too much to fit the \93data\94. Campbell\92s second function, as requirement for what any and all mythologies must do requires too much). Campbell\92s four functions are:
(1). The metaphysical function: myth awakens and guides our quest for the meaning of life and the mystery of being.
(2). The cosmological function: myth gives a sacred meaning to the scientific picture of the world according to the level of scientific and technological development at the time (flat earth, geocentric, heliocentric, etc.).
(3). The sociological function: myth validates the inherited traditions and patterns of a particular culture and/or folk.
(4). The psychological function: myth is a guide to how to live a human life through its various stages from birth to death (and usually into post-mortem existence or the afterlife).
According to the History of Religion, myth is supposed to be an ontophany (i.e. a revelation of Being). That is, within and by means of its dramatic and narratival structure it reveals or imitatively presents the deep plot, structural dynamics, or core dynamics of reality or Being. On the motif of macrocosm-microcosm, myth as a story presents the archetypal plot or dynamics of not just our psyche but the cosmos.
I once got in a conversation about this with my car mechanic in terms of history vs. myth after he saw Lord of the Rings with his wife. At the end, he summarized, \93so history is what I, the driver, the steering wheel and accelerator do, myth is what the transmission does and mythic world ages are what gear you\92re in.\94 I sort of thought it fit.
What we are beginning to rediscover (and are beginning to realize our culture has partially lost since the rise of ancient Greek philosophy) is that reality itself includes, besides a categorical structure of Being (subject of traditional western metaphysics and philosophy), a story dynamics. The ontological status of plot and narrative as part of how reality temporally flows, develops, and unfolds is presented and re-presented in story (for a single quick reference on this that also refers to the other relevant literature, sort of a one-stop crash course, see the book Time, Narrative, and History by David Carr). So, myth, in its structural dynamics (the unfolding plot structure) is ontophany (this term comes from Mircea Eliade). It is also thereby, hierophany, that is, a revelation or manifestation of the large scale workings of the divine and sacred (the direction and purpose of the divine and sacred). The combined implication is that reality, the cosmos, Being, or nature itself (treating these terms as designating the same thing at this point) is naturally a revelation and manifestation of the divine and sacred, that is, the very existence of the world and life is a hierophantic (revelation of the sacred) ontophany (revealed manifestation of the nature and dynamics of Being). Or, in other words, it is a manifestation of sacred power and wisdom.
We are discovering that myth is essential to religion and spirituality. Why? Imagine you wake up one day on a sailing vessel. You have no recollection of boarding and you have no knowledge of where you are at or where they ship should be heading. Perhaps you begin to look for the crew. In the process, you find there is no crew and that your fellow passengers literally and figuratively are in the same boat. Squabbles may break out over who in charge or who should be in charge. But it eventually dawns on everyone that the ship is at peril because it is being buffeted, uncontrolled by a crew, by the tides, currents, and winds. Whether any of you are good or not, you all have to take a crash course in learning, more or less effectively, how to sail. After a while, you all begin to resemble a crew as you collectively gain proficiency with the rudder and the sails. Pretend this is you busy in getting an education or training for a career or profession. There is still the question of where the ship is and where is it going. There is the question of ship stores that may break out into a fight. Some want to eat as much of the food and drink as they want day to day. Others may be more cautious. They may raise the question of whether the ship is supposed to be on a short voyage or a long one. If it is a long one, ship\92s stores might need to be conserved. Perhaps an argument breaks out about whether it is or is not a short voyage until someone gets everyone\92s attention. Nobody knows for sure and the ship is still in peril no matter how well the crew now manages to sail it because they don\92t know how to locate where they are and they don\92t know where they are supposed to be going. A search turns up to things. The ship has a compass. No matter which way the ship is heading the compass always points in the same direction. Imagine the compass being your conscience (your basic innate knowledge of right and wrong, of virtues and vices). Still, by itself, it is not of much help if you don\92t know where you are and where you are supposed to be going. Then it is noticed that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west during the day and there are stars at night. Again, this additional piece of information, like the compass, might be helpful but together they are not enough. Finally, one finds the maps that mark out the ship\92s course. With the maps, the ship\92s compass and the stars overhead can guide the voyage. With the maps, the crew knows how long the voyage might be, where they came from, where they are at now, and where they are going. The maps are myths. Let\92s turn to a closer look at myths as maps.
As a hierophantic ontophany, myth provides a life or existential road-map as a spiritual guide to our life and our world by answering four questions. The first question is: does existence (the world, Being, the cosmos) have a transcendent intelligibility, meaning, value and purpose? It is a simple and pointed yes or no question. Religious and spiritual viewpoints answer \93yes\94. Nonreligious and nonspiritual viewpoints, whether acknowledged or not, answer \93no\94. Every person has a philosophy of life whether they know it or not. It is summed up in their day to day beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions: their basic \93take\94 on life. Rock bottom, it comes down to a \93yes\94 or \93no\94 answer to this question (acknowledging that people can have an ambivalent, ambiguous, and/or hypocritical relation to this question whether they are aware of it or not, it is still at bottom on balance a mostly \93yes\94 or mostly \93no\94 answer). It is for those who answer \93yes\94 to this question that myth has any meaning as it answers the following three questions.
(1). Where did I (we, everything) come from?
(2). Why am I (we, everything) here (i.e., what is my vocation, purpose, destiny, orlog and wyrd, karma)?
(3). Where am I (we, everything) going (is there life after death, etc.)?
By picking up and sustaining our answer \93yes\94 to the first question, myth fulfills Campbell\92s first function of myth. By answering the next three questions, myth is a map, a guide to life (to the plot of what the stories of our individual lives are all about-- really) that fulfills Campbell\92s third and fourth function.
To summarize and close: myth connects that developing plot that includes what is most real, most important, most essential, most authentic, and most valuable within me with that developing plot outside and beyond me that sustains what is most real, most important, most essential, most authentic, and most valuable in the cosmos as a whole. \93We are such stuff as myths are made of\85.\94
For what it is worth, Constantinople did have an elaborate throne room that used steam to power an elevator for the imperial throne, various mechanical devices and musical instruments that played music by steam, and various animal and human "automata" to impress visitors powered by air, water, or steam. The imperial gardens also had similar air, water or steam driven devices, musical instruments, fountains, and automata. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the technology spread to western Europe where similar royal and estate gardens were designed and built that included water, steam, and air powered fountains, automata, and automata musical instruments (a mechanical bird chirping) from the late 1400s to the 1800s. Since Vikings became the core of the Varangian Guard, perhaps there were Nordic themes incorporated into these mechanical gardens?
I wasn't ruling that out. I was just pointing out that Byzantium had some technological marvels.
One feature that the IE traditions share with post-exilic Judaism (and hence, Christianity) is reading actual history religiously-mythically. Something of this mindset lives on today with the mere fact our calendar dates from Christ as an ordering of time and history or with modern day fundamentalist Christians reading the newspaper as "signs" of the "last days" or strongly nationalist Russian Orthodox Christians reading contemporary events in terms of the epic-mythos of Rome as the eternal city thus old Rome (of the Father), New Rome (Constantinople -- of the Son), and the third and final Rome (Moscow -- of the Holy Spirit).
Our school history books do this in a faded fashion to the extent we cover the ancient world, then western Europe, and then, US history with the tacit suggestion the US is the latest phase of history and the direction of history has been headed all along just as the western expansion of Europeans was "manifest destiny". I could go on more about national mythology shaping how American (and other countries) see its history or contemporary events. During the Kennedy presidency there was a semi-conspiracy to cast that presidency in the image of Arthur and Camelot (which was also playing an extended amount of time on Broadway at the time, as noted in Geoffry Hodgson's book on 20th century American history). The mortal blow to this way of viewing the world was probably the Thirty Years War. Before that, in a much more vivid fashion, most historical personages and events were remembered, noted, worthy of attention, and were of significance to the extent they embodied mythic paradigms for significant personages and significant events. "Historians" back then did not do history in our modern sense. After the Thirty Years War there is a faded legacy. The fading of heraldry is part of the same phenomenon. The use of acronyms is part of the secularization and "desacralization" of institutions, governments, agencies, and prominent families.
Rydberg analyzed at length that the medieval sagas were an attempt to histocize mythic Germanic materials within a classical Rome scheme (Troy) and biblical scheme. But there is an additional element I call reading historical events mythically (or reflecting mythic realities) that is an IE tradition that predates Christianity. For example, Virgil's Aeneid is noted by Rydberg because its part of the background scheme for how Germanic materials were dealt with but there is also Livy's History of Rome. Indo-European mythology and the early events of Rome's history are so interpermeating each other its almost as if Livy's ideological message is that the founding of Rome is the concrete enactment of the mythic events that founded the cosmos and the gods (as several studies have shown, Rome's true mythology is not the greek overlay that came later but is hidden underneath and within Livy's history). Its a way of looking at historical events, developments, and persons as if, sacramentally, so to speak, they are the re-enactment or "incarnation" of the whole mythology. We find the same thing in the Shahnama of Persia and the Mahabharata of India (although in this one, it is explicitly said the gods and their entire story or history was reincarnated into the human heroes and historical personages in this drama about an apocalyptic war -- Alf Hiltebeitels book The Ritual of Battle analyzes this as well as comparing what's going on in the Mahabharata with Fimbulwinter and Ragnarok). Historical persons and events worth remembering are remembered according to literary paradigms set by the mythology as paradigm. Significant historical persons and events are noticed and remembered to the extent they seem to reflect or re-present mythic persons and events otherwise they are not significant or noteworthy in this mindset.
One last comment, Byzantium was also doing the same "propaganda-saga" creating that Rydberg noted the Christian West and Rome were doing. Byzantines used the fact that the new capital was both Christian and across the straits from Troy to legitimate Constantinople as the full return and home-coming of the Trojans (territorially and religiously, to the true God). This Byzantine scheme also handled Germanic and Slavic materials in a manner similar to what the West did and in competition with the West even before the Great Schism between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.
Just some additional complicating factors to factor in.
Mircea Eliade in his The Sacred and the Profane, Myth and Reality, and Cosmos and History uses the following analogy. If you know anything about Platonism, changing appearances of the physical world are only "real" to the extent they participate in the eternal forms. Well, in one way that also denigrated myth by making story ultimately not real, Plato still continues the mythic way of viewing the cosmos in this relation of physical appearances in the realm of becoming to the forms. How did Plato continue while undermining the mythic way of seeing things? In this, according to Eliade, historical events and persons are only significant and "real" if they participate in the mythic paradigm. Where the mythic view differs from Plato is that the mythic paradigm, instead of being a static form, is the real and "big story". A things worth remembering either participate and reflect this reality or are insignificant and "not real". Our "time" is real to the extent it embodies and participates in "that primordial and paradigmatic real time"; our "history" is real to the extent it embodies and participates in "that real primordial and paradigmatic real history". In IE mythic traditions, one might say that it is not so much that one is made in the image of God but that one's whole life conforms to, reflects, and is made in the image of the entire mythic story or one really never lived or was a person of substance; in that case one may have existed but never lived -- was never "real". With that mindset, real concrete historical individuals also consciously tried to make their great deeds conform to the mythic paradigm available (in a way, they sort of made their conformity with mythic reality others would later remember a self-fulfilling prophecy -- instead of imitation of christ it was imitation of the myth as a spiritual way.
Anyway, trying to remember some questions without going back to look, yes, I can provide an IE Bibliography. I think it should be an annotated one that also explains the relations between works (as well as whether new developments make some parts of these works no longer valid and where the author might have originally changed his or her mind).
The annotation may also need a bibliography. For example, some of the sources IE studies use are works not directly dealing with IE as a topic itself. So, for example, some works are on Islam or Tantric Buddhism but deal with IE materials. For example, Henry Corbin, in a work on Sufism, treats the relation of fravashi and valkyries. In some works on Zoroastrianism, we hear discussion of a "demonization" of Vayu so that he becomes the prototype for Angra Mainyu who is the opponent of Ahura Mazda (Deivos, Varuna) which also matches Baltic materials where Deivos and Velnias (Vayu-Odin) are often at odds if not enemies like they are in Zoroastrian tradition. Or a work on Vedic religion may not be concerned about IE themes but establishes the identity of Vayu = Rudra = Siva (the Maruts are loaned to Indra by Vayu and are also called the Rudriyas). Another scholar, not knowing of this study may still do an independent study on the similarity of Siva and Odin and Loki just from the standpoint of literary criticism and analysis of characters.
Re: IE Bibliography?
Let me start with eight and an outline scheme found in IE materials with lots of variations on the theme in this scheme.
Here is a very brief IE Bibliography to start with. First, I need to outline a basic scheme that we find reflected in all Indo-European materials and descendent cultures. Draw a triangle. Next, draw two horizontal lines through the triangle at roughly equal heights. Third, draw a vertical line down through the apex of the triangle. The three horizontal layers represent the \93three worlds (each threefold themselves so its ninefold total)\94 of celestial heaven, atmospheric-heaven, and earth. Each of these levels contain more than their physical symbol which is a manifestation of and symbol of higher nonphysical realms. The two halves divided by the vertical line divide, symbolically, daylight and public and public law side from the nighttime and private morals and magic side. The primordial gods that occupy all three levels (asuras or vanir) tend to have less mythology associated with them making them more abstract, or giving them more of a dignified transcendent mystery, and also making them harder to discern in the different cultural inflections of IE material. This order of gods are collectively described as the older and more primordial gods, the sovereign gods, the possessors of the world-frame, and the gods who by their nature are immortal. This order is first Dyauspiter (Diespitar, Jupiter, Ziupiter, Ziuvater, Tyrvater, Tyr, Deivos). Dyaus has two aspects corresponding to the daylight and nighttime sides. These are Mitra-Aryaman (Irmin in Germanic lore) corresponding to the dayside and Varuna corresponding to the night side. Think of one godhead with multiple persons (like the Christian trinity). Dyaus is the father of the primordial atmospheric god the sun, Vivasvant-Surya (another Surya, different accent, is the suns daughter, Vivasvant is also know as the heavenly Agni-Heimdall), and of (or alternatively, grandfather of with Vivasvant being the father of) the terrestrial divine twin gods as well as the ancestral human twins (yemo and manu, Yama and Manu, Yima, Yayati, Nordic Ymir and Mimir, Germanic Tuisto and Mannus, and Roman Remus and Romulus).
The primordial goddesses are Aditi (heavens as womb), Prthivi (Mother Earth), Saraswati (wisdom), as well as a few others.
Note: humans have a joint ancestry. One is solar. One is lunar. For example, in Persian lore, humans have a solar descent from Yima and a lunar descent from Mah and Mahryang (both meaning moon). Humans have a postmortem choice to follow the solar path of the gods or the lunar path of the fathers-ancestors.
Now, after the original cosmos is attacked or something goes wrong, it is re-ordered and a new race of warrior gods, the devas, emerge to defend and protect. It is with this something going wrong that the primordial sacrifice/attack on the cosmic man/god (yemo, prajapati), cosmic bovine, and the cosmic tree/plant occurs. The Vedic Purusha means cosmic \93man-bovine-plant\94 out of which emerges a new making to protect and defend a mortalized life as well as an underworld realm to protect the dead until the attack and war ends. In contrast to the older gods, these have a lot of mythological stories attached to them. They are the action heroes in center stage, so to speak. Also, in contrast to the primordial gods, their immortality is contingent upon a regular supply of soma/haoma/mead/ambrosia/ambrotas and upon their interdependency of fulfilling their roles as upholders and defenders of cosmic order again chaos. They are also dependent on all of life that feeds them as them transform the energies they draw from all of life and return back to strengthen life. These gods can also make mistakes and are fallible. The two primary gods of this new generation, corresponding to the atmospheric level mentioned above, is Thor/Parjanya/Perkunas/Perkun, corresponding to the daylight side, and Odin/Vata/Vayu/Rudra/Siva, corresponding to the nightside. So, now, you have the same triangle with three levels and two sides but also a warrior god overlay (back in the day of overhead projectors, this was a transparency laid on top of the original triangle). As part of this overlay, Agni is reborn into this group from seven or nine mothers as is Heimdall, Tyr/Dyaus, and Mitra (who comes at the end of the war to heal all things).
Anyway, the very short bibliography;
Dumezil, Georges. Gods of the Ancient Northmen. University of California Press, 1973.
\93 \93 . Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty, Zone Books, 1988.
\93 \93 .The Destiny of a King. University of Chicago Press, 1973.
\93 \93 . The Stakes of the Warrior (its at my office so I don\92t have the publisher info).
Lincoln, Bruce. Priests, Warriors, and Cattle. University of California Press, 1981.
\93 \93 . Myth, Cosmos, and Society: Indo-European Themes of Creation and Destruction. Harvard University Press, 1986.
Littleton, C. Scott. The New Comparative Mythology (its also at my office so I don\92t have publisher info).
Puhvel, Jaan. Comparative Mythology (Indo-European). Johns Hopkins University Press (going by memory so can\92t recall the date).
>>So you're saying that, in comparison to Varuna "incarnating" as a deva, Tyr is the "incarnation" of a previous deity. Which generation would he be from originally? And which earlier deity would he be?
: Tyr-Varuna are two aspects of the same sovereign god.
>>In the Greek pantheon, Uranos is believed to equate to Varuna. Is there any surviving story about Uranos "incarnating" as another, later-generation deity?
: the linkage between Varuna and Uranus/Ouranos is an old one that no longer holds up under current linguistic research nor does Polome's earlier, and now disavowed, view that Vata and Varuna were originally the same -- that is no longer a viable hypothesis either. Although Dumezil is somewhat correct that Odin later absorbs some of Varuna's traits; both are binders and magicians and expert spellcrafters.
>>My knowledge of Vedic and Greek mythologies is very poor, so I've had to go searching the internet for information. I came across the book Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization by David Frawley over at Google Books. Let me just quote a bit of it, which starts with the author quoting someone else (whose name isn't included in the online sample), so I can show my poor footing on this subject:
: Frawley is not a good source outside of Hindu Ayurveda and Tantra.
>>"A History of the Uranides, a war between the generations of deities relates: in the beginning was Elyun, the Most high, succeeded by Uranus. He is dethrones and emasculated by his son Cronos, who is Elos, but he has an avenger in the person of Zeus, who is Adados, now king of the Gods. There too we find the names of Semitic deities: Elyun is Elyon, who is named in an Aramean inscription and his is the title of the God of Israel in the Psalms; Cronus-Elos is El; Zeus-Adados is Hadad, the name of the Aramean storm God coupled with Zeus in the Hellenic period.
>>"The first God is succeeded by Uranus/Varuna (to equate the Greek and the Sanskrit) who establishes the cosmic order. He is overthrown by his son Chronos or Saturn, who is the God of time and death, the demiurge (Vedic Vritra) who eats his own children. Varuna's rule is reestablished by Jupiter (Zeus-Indra) , whose wisdom brings immortality and returns us to the eternal Father. This is a common ancient myth, Aryan and Semitic."
: this is a bit of Vedic reconstructionism that Frawley is involved in that wants to claim the ancient and original civilization on the planet is the Vedic civilization as envisioned by the Hare Krishnas so take his stuff on the Vedas with a grain of salt. Its also part of a larger movement in India tied to the Jannata Bharatiya Party and Hindutva.
>>So if I understand this correctly, Varuna/Uranos is the father of ??/Cronus, who is the father of Indra/Jupiter? How would these deities fit into the Norse pantheon -- who equates to whom and such?
: Frawley is claiming that Varuna is killed by Vrtra and reborn as Indra-Odin-Jupiter. This has more of doing new creative mythologizing to push the cultural worldview of those like the Hare Krishnas (see another one in this camp, Stephen Knapp) using IE materials rather than an accurate reconstruction of what the original myth originally was.
Re: IE Bibliography?
I forgot to add that with the emergence of warrior-gods emerges what Dumezil documents and describes as the tri-partite social structure of priests-magicians at the apex, warrior-kings at the middle-level, and husbandmen-farmers-craftsmen at the lower level.
Brief Vedic Biblio
Some books on Vedic religion that I've found useful.
Griswold, The Religion of the Rgveda (older but still useful).
Poetry, riddles, and puzzles ritually recited were methods to evoke visionary experiences that in turn enhanced poetic expression. Great mantras (poetic turns of phrase) were brahman phrases (phrases with power). Brahman started out as a term that designated the power of word-magic or mantra. It becomes the warrior drinking boast in Nordic traditions and is the word our "brag" comes from. A true brag, even if it had elements of a fishing story, appeared to "psyche" warriors and priests up for great deeds. Such brags appear to not be taken to be literally true but true of the character of the person even if it did not really happen. Such provides a cautionary note on ancient myths. Were all of they believed in literally like a fundamentalist Christian believes the Bible or are some of them "true boasts" which were known not to have literally happened but are psychologically true of a god or heroes' character? Later, it is the binding and great-making power that mutually feeds the gods as they and humans feed it in an interdependent network of mutual reciprocity of co-dependence upon a collectively shared life-force. Later, brahman displaces the gods and goddesses but for a while it was more like the "force" in Star Wars and before that -- a powerful mantra.
Johnson, Willard. Poetry and Speculation of the Rgveda. Univ. of California Press, 1986.
Staal, Fritz. Agni: The Vedic Ritual of the Fire Altar. (a massive two volume study with recordings) This is valuable also because it provides a basis on which to piece together what scraps of information we have on Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Roman ritual.
Woodard has a new book out on Vedic and Roman Ritual Space (Roman ritual is
practically identical to that of Vedic ritual except the whole city of Rome was one big altar) but the shape and orientation of the three fires at Germanic sites indicate a great deal of conservatism in terms of rites and rituals: round hearth fire in the west from which the other ritual fires were lit. Due east, a square sacrificial fire and due east of it a pole or tree. Either southwest or northeast, Vedic and Germanic sites had a crescent shaped protecting fire.
Another historical biblio Formation Zoroastrianism Judaism Christianity
This might be slightly off topic but it overlaps to the extent that it refers you to some works on IE influence, through Zoroastrianism, on the formation of Judaism and Christianity.
You could also think of it as an anti-harassment education reading list next time you get into a religion debate with Christians.
In case anyone is interested in having some \93ammo\94 if they are engaged with Christians in debate or the formation of these religions, here is a summary of what the research methodologies of the History of Religion discovered about Judaism, Christianity, and the Bible\92s formation. The usual Christian view of the history of these is more \93myth\94 (in their sense of the word) than fact (sort of an idealized myth of divine origins). Brief bibliography will follow.
Judaism and Christianity Overview
Briefly, what we find in the history of Judaism is the gradual development from polytheism to henotheism to monotheism. At first, the god(s) of the Hebrews is (are) just ethnic and tribal. The god of the Hebrews is their god while neighboring nations have their own gods. As Israel struggles with other nations and peoples, so the Hebrew god struggles with the god of the other people. What mistakenly looks like the exclusivism of monotheism (an image promoted by Christians) \96 there is only one God \96 is really at this early phase a form of ethnic exclusivism, in effect, \93we worship only our god of our people\94. Eventually, at a late phase, Judaism is re-made into a universal monotheism where the Hebrew god is envisioned as God, creator of the universe, under the tutelage of Zoroastrianism. It is from Zoroastrianism that later ancient Judaism\92s messianic expectation develops.
Jesus of Nazareth was a follower of John the Baptist. When John was imprisoned and killed, Jesus began his own ministry. Basically, both were preaching the end-times had arrived. Jesus literally was going around preaching that the end of the world had arrived and that \93some now living will see the Messiah come before they die\94. Historically, Jesus looks like an end-of-the-world-is-here nut.
A wide and very strange variety of Christianities arose after the death of Jesus. Some of these early Christianities did not think that the crucifixion had any religious significance at all. They saw Jesus as just another martyred prophet and continued to preach his message of the coming (soon) of a new age-kingdom. Other versions claimed to have had visionary experiences of a transfigured Jesus-figure from the heavens (Gnosticism grows out of these). These many different Christianities had many different scriptures.
The strain that would become the exclusive form of Christianity (and the exclusive form of the New Testament) we know after Constantine made it the only legal version and stamped out the others also underwent a development that does not sit well with fundamentalists views of origins. First, the earliest strata in what became the New Testament depicts the resurrection-appearances as visionary experiences. About 70 to a 100 years later, after the gospels were written we see a creative process of changing the basic story line about the resurrection (we have about 5446 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. These copies don\92t agree enough of the time to lead one leading New Testament scholar to say there are more disagreements in these manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament. But we can also see they have undergone several editorial revisions and radical theological makeovers well into the 600s C.E. Examples: Mark has three endings that are noted in footnotes in most modern Bibles, Matthew is a condensed version of an older and much longer Matthew, Paul\92s fight with Peter/Cephas and the Jerusalem Church is toned way down in later copies of his epistles and Acts is a late propaganda work on \93early Christian unity\94 probably written by Polycarp or one of his students with a radical re-working of Luke \96 the olde proto-Luke looks almost Gnostic). This creative re-writing of the resurrection visionary experiences moves it first to the cross. The crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension are the same event. Jesus dies on the cross and Christ is seen from the heavens. Then there is some conflicting \93christologies\94 developing in these materials of whether Jesus was or was not the Christ, and if so, when. Roughly, in developmental order, Jesus becomes the Christ during his ascension-exaltation on the cross, then a new theory that he becomes the Christ when baptized by John in the Jordan, then late nativity narratives are tacked on to affirm Jesus was the Christ at birth. Finally, in the last gospel written, one very late addition is made to John, Jesus was the pre-existent logos from the beginning of time. In this process, Christians writing in separate places try to develop a \93canonical\94 set of resurrection appearances to control the proliferation of prophets and apostles claiming the resurrected Jesus appeared to them (and thus, commissioned them to teach). The oldest is Jesus appeared first to Peter (this is in Corinthians and contradicts the later gospel account of appearing to the women \96 which ever women were there since the gospels conflict on this too), then to the 12,\85and finally, to Paul (Paul\92s vision on the road to Damascus is what the early resurrection appearances appear to have actually been like). The last development is the whole-hog invention of \93empty-tomb\94 narratives tacked onto the gospels after they were written and edited and revised several times through the hands of several \93editors/co-authors\94. These empty-tomb narratives radically contradict each other on close reading. Second, we find Paul (and his followers) re-making a version of Christianity from being a messianic Jewish sect into a Hellenistic Mystery Religion.
Judaism went through four major phases of development. These are:
1. Pre-exilic Judaism
2. Exilic Judaism (Babylonian Captivity)
3. Post-exilic Judaism (also called \93Second Temple Judaism\94)
4. Rabbinic or Tannaitic Judaism (from the destruction
Pre-exilic Judaism (1040 to 586 B.C.E.)
Pre-exilic Judaism displays a conflict between northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribe of Judea that is both political and religious. The northern tribes (1) politically resist or are cautious about the development of the monarchy in the south, and (2) the monarchy\92s demand that all worship will be at the Jerusalem temple. The northern tribes worship a god named El (Hebrew cognate to Allah). They worship this god at numerous high places where altars are set up since ancient (for them) times. Each of these high places where El is worshipped adds a local name to El so that you get El Shaddai, El Shiloh, El Gabr (Gabriel), and so on, which are collectively, the elohim (plural of El).
In practice, the situation amongst looks like a residual polytheism slowly developing into a monotheistic confederation (the confederation of tribes leading to a mutual recognition that \93your el shaddai\94 is the same as our \93el Shiloh). In the formation of the Old Testament of the Bible\92s oldest strata, the elohist traditions can still be detected and extracted out from the biblical text.
The next oldest strata in the Old Testament of the Bible is the jahwist source material which also can be extracted out from the other materials. This is the material of the southern kingdom of Judea. Instead of El, the Hebrew god is Yahweh. Yahweh was originally a Midianite war god who lived on a mountain (Sinai) and threw thunderbolts down from it. Yahweh (like Zeus and Typhon, Marduk and Tiamat, etc) is also a dragon-slayer god. Annually, on the new year (as part of a religious celebration of symbolic re-creation where order is symbolically re-asserted over chaos) the divine hero of order, Yahweh (and symbolically the king of Israel-Judea), once again symbolically defeats the dragon representing chaos, Leviathian. The southern Judaean jahwist tradition criticizes the northern traditions that maintain their separate high places of worship as well as the north\92s hesitant allegiance to the monarchy. The southern yahwist tradition ideologically pushes for all worship to be done exclusively at the Jerusalem temple (advocates for a Jerusalem temple monopoly), all power to be completely consolidated to the monarchy, and calls for the destruction (leading to battles between the tribe of Judea and the northern tribes of Israel) of the high places of worship in the north.
The other two strata we can find in the Old Testament are exilic and post-exilic redactions called the \93priestly source\94 and \93deutero-source\94. So, we have E, J, P, and D sources in the Old Testament.
Exilic Judaism (722 B.C.E. or 586 B.C.E. to 539 B.C.E.)
Israel is divided after Solomon into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judea. The northern kingdom is conquered by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E.
The southern kingdom falls to the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.
Briefly, Judaism re-makes itself into the image of Zoroastrianism. The Hebrew god becomes the God of the universe, creator, the power of good in battle with the forces of darkness and the devil as fallen angels, this battle will culminate in a final battle where evil is defeated forever by a Savior, and this will be followed by a general resurrection. Yahweh is no longer a tribal war god but the one God.
Meanwhile, the northern tribes that were not taken into exile build their own northern temple complex. This temple will survive after the destruction of the southern temple and Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E. These northern people are depicted in the latter parts of the Bible as low-caste and inferior types. This legacy of the original northern tribes not taken into captivity will be known in the New Testament as the Samaritans.
Briefly, this is the Judaism of the time of Jesus where, under Roman rule, messianic expectancy reaches a fever pitch leading to a war with Rome that results in the destruction of the second Jerusalem temple as well as Jerusalem itself with Jews throw out of the land and banned from returning. Jesus (or in the eyes of some of his early followers) was just one of the minor claimants to messianic pretensions.
This form of Judaism took form over the years after the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. It also took form after Christianity began its ascendency. Somewhat paradoxically, the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament that the Protestants believed was the older and original Old Testament (in rejecting the Catholic and Orthodox canon based on the older Greek Old Testament) was formed at this time also.
Develops out of the end-of-the-world cult of John the Baptist and Jesus into a Mystery Religion about Christ as the dying and resurrecting savior.
Brief Bibliography (with comments and in no particular order)
Hayes, John. Introduction to the Bible. Westminister Press. (pretty much a \93conservative\94 overview of everything stated above in an introductory undergraduate text for New Testament, Bible, and History of Religion majors, includes discussions of E, J, P, D, northern and southern conflicts between El and Yahweh worshippers, the Zoroastrian make-over, John the Baptist and Jesus as end-of-the-world preachers, gradual formation of resurrection stories and their contradictions, Paul as the inventor of Christianity as we know it, and the pushing back of the millennium as the end of the world prophesied by Jesus doesn\92t come as he predicted.).
Von Rad, Gerhard. Old Testament Theology. 2 vols. (the standard textbook on the development of the Old Testament and Judaism. Advanced undergraduate or introductory graduate level. Historically accurate but also trying to maintain the Lutheran faith in the face of historical facts. It is the balancing act that historians of religion who remain Christian play and learned from him amongst others.)
Oesterley, W.O. An Introduction to the Books of the Old Testament. (an older text but still useful. Oesterley essentially presents the same results von Rad does but is occasionally a little more frank and blunt about consequences for Christian belief).
Eissfeldt, Otto. The Old Testament: A History of its Formation. (older but still useful.)
Sheehan, . The First Coming: How the Kingdom of God Became Christianity. (essentially an overview for the general reader of what was sketched above by an ex-Catholic Jesuit who is now a professor of philosophy at University of Chicago).
Ehrman, Bart. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and Faiths We Never Knew (a summary of 300 years of New Testament and Early Christianity research that has become a consensus for the general reader by one of the leading New Testament scholars today. He started out as a conservative evangelical Christian and shares his story about how he changed as he learned about what the historical facts were as he mastered the field and found his faith challenged. He has become a favorite target of evangelicals but academically his research is sound and they work themselves into a deeper frenzy when their attacks are shown to have no substance.)
\93 \93. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. (Ehrman\92s book summarizing what has been a consensus view in academia about who and what the historical Jesus was for the general reader and the challenges it poses to Christian faith).
\93 \93 . The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. (Ehrman\92s undergraduate college textbook on the formation of the New Testament).
\93 \93. The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effects of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. (solid and academic \96 advanced).
\93 \93. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. (popular summary of his academic Orthodox Corruption for general readership)
Schweitzer, A. The Quest for the Historical Jesus. (the first classic summary of the results of the first phase of historical Jesus research as it stood in the early 20th century. Jesus is an end-of-the-world prophet who was dead wrong.)
Schweitzer, A. The Mysticism of the Apostle Paul. (Schweitzer\92s academic work on Paul as the creator of Christianity as a Mystery Religion).
Reitzenstein. The Hellenistic Mystery Religions. (a more heavy going work as the above).
Bultmann, R. Jesus and the Word (pre-eminent New Testament scholar of the 20th century summarized new research into historical Jesus through the 1940s and 1950s. Basically, the same story told by Schweitzer, and Ehrman).
Bornkamnn, Gunther. Jesus of Nazareth. (student of Bultmann and a major New Testament scholar updating Bultmann\92s views into the 1970s. Essentially the same findings as summarized in Schweitzer, Bultmann, Ehrman)
Robinson, J. The New Quest for the Historical Jesus. (brief academic summary of the second, Bultmannian phase of research and essentially reinforces the emerging \93consensus\94 of Jesus as end-of-the-worlder preacher who was wrong).
Metzger, Bruce. The Canon of the New Testament: its Origin, Development, and Significance. (advanced textbook by the current foremost leader in the field at Princeton).
Fuller, Reginald. The Formation of Resurrection Narratives in the New Testament. (a solid and historically accurate study of the creation of the myth of the resurrection from visionary experiences to the late empty tomb narratives while, like von Rad, trying to save Christian faith in a Lutheran perspective in face of historical facts that the resurrection is a historical fiction).
Koestler, Helmut. Early Christian Gospels. (advanced introduction to early Christian scriptures, both those that made it into our New Testament and those which did not, by one of Bultmann\92s outstanding students and acclaimed historian of early Christianity at Harvard University).
\93 \93 . Introduction to the New Testament. 2 vols. (Koestler\92s advanced textbook on New Testament).
Ludeman, Gerd. The Resurrection: A Historical Study (an advanced academic study of the early resurrection accounts, their formation, and its status as a historical fiction. Ludemann was one of the leading New Testament scholars in Germany until he actually stopped playing the historian/believer \96 two headed don\92t let your right hand/believer know what your left hand/historian self knows \96 balancing act and frankly and publically announced the resurrection never happened. Since you have to be a believing Lutheran to hold a professorship in Germany, he was forced to resign. He is now at Vanderbilt University here in Nashville as Professor of New Testament).
\93 \93 . What Really Happened to Jesus: A Historical Approach to the Resurrection. (Ludemann\92s later popular summary of his academic work above with a discussion of the politics involving losing his German professorship).
Neusner, Jacob. Faith, Truth and Freedom: The Expulsion of Gerd Ludemann from the Theology Faculty at Gottingen. (a bit of an aside but a collection of documents and papers discussing them and academic freedom edited by one of the worlds foremost scholars of Judaism, Jacob Neusner.)
\93 \93. Judaism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism in Talmudic Babylon. (Jacob Neusner\92s study of the interactions of these religions in later antiquity)
\93 \93. Judaism and Zoroastrianism in the Dusk of Antiquity. (another follow up study by Neusner).
(I forget the author). Zoroastrianism and Israel. (older book)
Carter, George. Zoroastrianism and Judaism (older work on the Zoroastrian influence on Judaism reprinted in 2008. There are a whole bunch of titles on the Zoroastrian influence on Judaism that are found in academic journals, such as Journal for the Academy of Religion and History of Religion, as well as in several books on Judaism, Zoroastrianism, or early Christianity as collected articles or as chapters, for example, in his the Zoroastrian Faith, Nigosian briefly touches on the relation and then refers to prior studies.).
Tomasino, A. Judaism Before Jesus. (A popular work that touches on the Zoroastrian influence on Judaism).
Short Religion and History of Religion Biblio
General Philosophy of Religion
History of Religion
Westphal, Merold. God, Guilt, and Death: An Existential Phenomenological Philosophy of Religion (provides a useful typology of kinds of religions and the meaning-function of religion in human life and experience).
Taliaferro, Charles. A Contemporary Introdcution to the Philosophy of Religion.
Eliade, Mircea. The Sacred and Profane.
" " . The Myth of the Eternal Return (Cosmos and History)
" " . Patterns of Comparative Religion
Cone (or Kone). The Roots of Apocalyptic Faith (this work works nicely with Elaide's Myth of the Eternal Return -- both are on how religions pattern time and it also discusses Zoroastrianism as the source of apocalyptic faith and how it got from there to Judaism and Christianity).
Eliade, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas. (3 vols) An overview of the history of religion from stone age to present. Also covers IE religion and its descendent religious cultures as well as the developments of Judaism under Zoroastrian influence, the emergence of gnosticism as "offspring" of Judaism and Zoroastrianism, early Christianity and Mystery Religions, all the way down to the 19th and 20th century occult revival coming out of gnostic and hermetic roots, etc.).
Re: Re: Brief Vedic Biblio
I see I will have to add a Zoroastrian biblio. I worked up a fairly comprehensive one quite a while back when I learned another had already done it. I know of a few things that are not in his. This bibliography is so big, it is its own book (not so unusual). Look for Ancient Iran and Zoroastrianism: CSR Bibliographic Studies in Religion, Willard Gurdon Oxtoby. I will add to that later.
Re: Myths as Brags/brahman and ritual
This is straight Indo-European. Brahman also applied to pregnancy as a condition containing a swelling potency of life so also could a great phrase, riddle, or action.
Besides J. Miller's book The Vision of Cosmic Order in the Rgveda (where we find the gods are mutually interdependent in a life-energy ecology, so to speak, in maintaining rta (order) and ritual is sort of a guided meditation/magical exercise like what is referred to as a performance tantra in Tibetan Buddhism), Johnson's book Poetry and Speculation (where brahman is the magical power of certain mantras that strengthen the bonds of this shared life-force or spiritedness), I refer you to four other books that address the animating spirit (pun intended) of Indo-European ritual. These are the Agni book, a book on Zoroastrian ritual by Jamsheed Choksy titled Purity and Pollution: Triumph Over Evil, Lincoln's book on Indo-European creation and destruction themes, and Brian K Smith's book on Vedic religion and ritual as constructivist-magic titled Reflections on Resemblance.
To begin, we might ask why is the word "religion" the word we use for religion? Part of the reason is Indo-European myth of the primal sacrifice of purusa, prajapati, yima/yama, tuisto/ymir. Religion is cognate with and also derived from a host of related terms connected with ligaments and ligature. It is to make connections or actually re-connect connections dismembered and now re-membered. The sacrifice is not only a symbolic re-doing of that primal sacrifice but also a reintegration of that primal being's ligaments. But now instead of a primal one, there is an integrated "we" made strong by our spirited solidarity, familial, kinship, and brahman-bonds as a network of life against anti-life.
One of the key transformations from Vedic religion to classical Hinduism is that this constructivist sense drops out of the picture. The tenor of the way Vedic texts are read changes. Imagine someone raving at an NFL game that their team is eternally the best ever in this game. In context, we can agree it is true and recognize it is a exclamation. Now imagine someone later hears the statement or hears about it and takes it as true but not as an exclamation. A whole different set of inferences about what it means is set up. The Vedic exclamations about brahman as the animating spirit or spiritedness of life shared by living beings (divine animal human) is turned into some kind of substantial fact. Brahman was the overwhelmingly healthy boastfulness of life and the life-bonds shared by all living beings against anti-life. Then it becomes more like a thing behind the scenes, the real thing. In the Vedic texts, for example, celebrating brahman as "one without a second" is a exclamation and boast that it has no rivals, it is without peer, it is unsurpassed. The change in tenor we find in classical Hinduism reads the same sentence as a factual nonexclamatory statement of metaphysics. The first does not point to a monism and is made in the context of a vigorous polytheism. The second is read as meaning the gods (and other living beings) are not so real because brahman has become understood as the monistic one. IE ritual is rehearsing that original dismemberment but it is also constructing the bonds that make life stronger, the gods stronger, humans stronger, the bond between gods and humans stronger and re-members the ligaments of purusa and prajapati. It is a meditative and tantra-like magic process of celebrating the original dismemberment (de-ligamentizing) that re-integrates and re-members Prajapati who is now all of life as a "we" in solidarity. In the ritual, as Johnson brings out, there were contests between priests (similar to the drinking boasts between warriors in the mead hall) on who could create the most brahman mantra. Sometimes this involved exaggerating a story about a god that is a boast yet true of that god's character and helps empower/feed that god's energy level. Thor going fishing for the Midgard serpent is a likely example. Its a brag that is true to (true as bond, as faithful loyalty) and true of the god's character even if it didn't literally happen that way. These priests would sing a mantra and another would go "pretty good" but that is not how I heard the story, his deeds were even greater than that!
Johnson calls these exchanges during the sacrifice "ritual symposiums". And as brahman mantras, as true boasts-brags (like the glowing smugness of a woman in a certain stage of pregnancy), the sacrificial process of reintegrating that primal being of life and empowering the sacrifice, humans and gods and the bonds between them is accomplished.
As Smith points out, Vedic religion is constructivist in that one had to magically build one's immortality. Atman was created by great deeds. Atman (one's inner bond to brahman) was not something you were born with but something you achieved and accomplished. And, in a way, it is the inner sacrifice of re-integrating Prajapati. Symbolically, in IE ritual space, *you* are purusa and *you* (microcosmic purusa) are being re-integrated and re-connected with stronger ligaments to the rest of life (macrocosmic purusa).
Tonight or tomorrow, I'll post another biblio list. I think I'll also post more on Rydberg's methodology. Acknowledged or not, its what is being used these days especially focussing on what a character does in a story rather than a character's name -- that's how you identify the person behind the polynominalism.
Dyaus Pitar = Varuna, was Tyr and Varuna
The evidence for the identity of Dyauspitr-Tyr with Varuna and Mitra is rather extensive but scattered all over the place in Celtic-Zoroastrian comparative studies, Celtic-Vedic comparative studies, and in Zoroastrian-Vedic comparative studies. Kuipner and Boyce made the strongest case for their identity. But another recent bit is a restored Proto-Indo-European text found in several Indo-European traditions that an international team were asked to restore in terms of what the original Proto-Indo-European text would have been based on the later texts that are almost verbatim reflections of each other (similar cases occur when, say, a koine Greek passage from the Bible is translated into kindred languages such as modern Greek, classical Greek, etc. or an Old English text is translated into Middle English and Modern English and then a German translation is found.
Anyway, here is the best and latest reconstructed PIE text where a human ruler is childless and beseeches the divine father of all fathers (father of all or all-father), Deiwos Werunos.
To rḗḱs éh1est. So n̥putlos éh1est. So rēḱs súhnum éwel(e)t. Só tós(j)o ǵʰeutérm̥ (e)pr̥ḱsḱet: "Súhxnus moi ǵn̥h1jotām!" So ǵʰeutēr tom rḗǵm̥ éweukʷet: "Ihxgeswo deiwóm Wérunom". So rḗḱs deiwóm Werunom h4úpo-sesore nu deiwóm (é)ihxgeto. "ḱludʰí moi, phater Werune!" Deiwós Wérunos km̥ta diwós égʷehat. "Kʷíd welsi?" "Wélmi súxnum." "Tód h1éstu", wéukʷet loukós deiwos Werunos. Rēǵós pótniha súhnum gegonh1e.
The key phrase is
"phater Werune! (father of all or all-father Varuna) Deiwos Werunos (Deivos Varuna or Dyaus Varuna)."
Hamp's/Sen's version from The Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. edited by J.P.Mallory and D.Q Adams. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing, 1997: 503,
Zimmer some years back showed that Dyauspitar, Varuna, and the Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda are all referred to by the single term Asura/Ahura, as Chief Aditya, as all-Father. Given the polynomialism noted by Rydberg, we have all three also called 'Bhaga" and "Apam Napat". All four names are uniquely referred to as Medhira/Mazda "THE Wise". (Zimmer, Münchner Studien 1984:187-215). Mary Boyce (Zoroastrian and Indo-Iranian expert) concurs in her discussion of an inscription from ancient Persia. One of the Artaxerxes (3?) has an prayer to "ahuramazda ura mithra baga" (Boyce, Acta Iranica 21, 1981:59-73) and they are called "highest lord" (ahura berezanta).
A fragment of an evening prayer in Lithuania where forgiveness of any misdeeds or dishonourable thoughts is asked for from Deivos is nearly identical to the Grihya (Vedic domestic householder rituals) evening prayer asking the same thing but addressed to Varuna. If I remember right, this is mentioned in Oldenberg somewhere. Plus, Varuna is the god of the people's assembly where healing in the matters of justice - rta and dharma -- are worked out in reconciliation. Tyr is the god of the Thing.
More to come later....
Re: Dyaus Pitar = Varuna, was Tyr and Varuna
>>One thing that I think is worthy of further study are the modifications made by various Indo-European groups as they moved away from their homelands, and here I am speaking of modifications that bespeak not merely meme-drift due to time, but possible disputations over various issues that give different emphases to the different IE traditions.
: I'm not sure what you mean. But the main "dispute" we find is between warrior gods and the older generation. War between Vanir and Aesir. In someplaces in Sweden and Iceland, we have evidence of Thor being opposed to the "evil" Odin (farming peoples opposed to the coastal marauders) or refugees from Norwegian kings opposed to Odin (as their patron). In the Baltic, Odin/Velnias has become the "devil" opposed by Perkunas/Thor and Deivos Varunas. In Zoroastrianism, Indra becomes a demon in the service of Angra Mainyu and Vayu is split into the "good" Vayu and the "evil" Vayu. Some have postulated that maybe Odin-Loki were a single deity that underwent a similar split. I don't find that likely. There were always the giants/demons.
With the Tajik alpine tribes, we find a very primitive strata. There we see an older pastoralist phase where the warrior gods never emerge as such. Warriors appeared, it seems, because of cattle-rustling (Lincoln's Priests, Warriors, etc). Before that, so to speak, they were "cowboys" or hunters. So, Thor releases the rains on the plains and mountains and Vayu brings the winds and Visnu is the light of the wide open spaces.
Another very old strata is with the Kalash people. There Indra has become the good/rain and warrior protector that chases off the bad/storm and raider, Vayu. This seems to reflect the struggle between pastoralists and cattle thieves (funny bit, here Odin/Vayu is the "demon" of the Muslims" "fury" and jihad.)
>>What were the disputes that caused the breakup of peoples in the first place, and sent them wandering all about?
There is no evidence they broke up due to disputes. The cause appears to be climate change (which in legend they all put down to the terrible winter of the north) associated with the end of the last ice age. Rich pasture lands and forests were no longer watered by rivers formed by runoff from the glaciers as the glaciers melted and retreated. These plains became too barren to sustain a population and its herds. They literally started the migrations to find greener pastures.
Rydberg and Saxo uncover a difference in the intensity and minutiae of religious worship when Odin is exiled ; when he returns, he returns things to a simpler basis.
Which in the various IE traditions is common, which is merely different from meme-drift, and which are divergences that bespeak ideological differences?
Re: Re: Dyaus Pitar = Varuna, was Tyr and Varuna
Two brief comments and questions. At one point below, you say you have to see the "originals". What do you mean by that? For example, we have no original Greek New Testament text and that is the best attested ancient manuscript tradition we have. There are +/- 5446 Greek manuscripts of parts of the New Testament. The oldest is dated from 125 years after the "events" it is purportedly about, comes from the 18th chapter of the gospel of John, and is the size of a credit card. Moreover, one prominent NT scholar put it, there are more disagreements and manuscript variations in these manuscripts than there are words in the NT. It is a big question of whether oldest should be trusted more than later. It is also a big question of whether the majority should be trusted. We know of several versions of Mark, 3 versions of Matthew, and two or three versions of Luke. Some letters attributed to Paul are conclusively not his. The Greek New Testament (Nestle-Arland) that is internationally used as the scholarly edition is a probable reconstruction, and in some cases, construction (since there are no autographs aka first originals and no means to judge which version is better) based on our best educated guesses. The Vedic texts and Mahabharata have similar issues. So does Snorri. So, just at the manuscript level what do you mean by "original"? Second, so far I have been giving sources accessible to English-speaking readers. What languages can you read? Also, this especially pertains to your access to the "originals". Translations are even more removed from "originals" than the reconstructed critical editions. Third, you can get books through library loan. Not being able to afford books is not in itself a "refutation". Fourth, I cite older books on points where they are still valid. But you have been citing studies that are 120 to 200 years old. A lot has happened since and because Kessinger Publishing (a reprint house) is publishing these old studies does not bring them up to date. For example, the connection between Varuna and Apam Napat is fairly well established in Vedic, Hindu epic, and Zoroastrian materials (its one reason Varuna becomes a mere ocean god and lunar god in puranic and modern Hinduism). But the original motif, just read the Jaan Puhvel book, was as the night aspect of the sovereign god Deivos, Varuna is the god of the starry deep, of the celestial oceans where the mill turns, of the ocean of a thousand eyes/spies (i.e., stars) and that is why he IS divided up in Celtic lore as Nuada and Nechtan, the puranic Hindu god of oceans, and the Prussian god of night and oceans on the last 50+ years of scholarly work's consensus. I'll provide more biblio in English and other languages but don't then tell me you have to disagree on the basis of you can't afford to buy the books or on the basis of 120 to 200 year old material (which is cited now to the extent it remains valid but on points it is invalid, it is only cited for a while as long as word needs to get out to other researchers it is wrong and here's why and then it drops out of the picture). Borce's argument is that Zarathustra's "reform" was rather "conservative", and thus, Ahura Mazda, Spenta Mainyu and the Amesha Spentas are still pretty close to the nature of the sovereign god and chief of the adityas and the adityas relation to each other. In their case, its not just polynominalism in Rydberg's sense, it is one sovereign entity with multiple personal hypostasis - the best analogy being the Christian Trinity or the Mahayana concept of all the Buddhas. So they are aspects of the sovereign god but also semi-independent persons. This applies strictly and only to the Aditya-group as one of the entities within a polytheistic pantheon and reflects none of the later blending of gods found in the later Vedic materials such as Clara's (as yet unaswered fully on this point) question about henotheism and brags.
Brags in Modern Heathenry
"I have felt for a long time that the reconstructionist community has
confused sacred oaths -- which apply to the LAW, and are the "perjury"
spoken of in Voluspa -- with gielps (brags and boasts), which are NOT
the same thing, are NOT as binding, and were thought of in a different
There is absolutely nothing said above that I disagree with nor that I think
conflicts with the historical evidence of our northern traditions.
This is not to say that brags and boasts were not important, and it is
not to say that they were not binding.
Certainly one's honor would rise up in ranks amongst one's fellows for
fulfilling a boast.
But boasts, as you point out, were more INCITEMENTS to great deeds. In
a sense, they were a bold example of what we moderns call "ideals" ---
things to stretch for --- and by making an audacious claim towards an
ideal, a young person was stretched towards their potential. They were
then expected to make a GOOD TRY, a healthy effort, towards fulfilling
that boast, no matter how long it would take.
But a boast WAS something thrown into the "well of wyrd", but Wyrd has
been too theologized by Bauschatz, becoming too much a repository of
history as such, and has lost its resonance of Chance. Wyrd should
also have connotations of a Wheel of Fortune, a Roulette Wheel, the
Throw of the Dice. Tacitus reports that the Germans were great gamblers.
A boast was a great dice-throw into the roulette wheel of the well of
wyrd. It was, by definition, chancy, and very well might not be able
to be performed no matter what the utterer might do, because some
things lie outside our power and control. But it was, in a sense, a
"tempting of fate", and if one was able to win out, one did, in a
sense, win back more for the human race from the hands of an
impersonal fate, and therefore won appropriate fame for it.
A sacred oath, on the other hand, was something uttered not over ale
in a meadhall, but uttered in a law-court, where the literal fate of
others was at stake, and where the folk met to determine the truth of
things. It was uttered in view of the family hamingja and the gods. In
that case, the breaking of an oath was betrayal of the community, of
family, and the gods --- a completely different case than someone who
merely failed to live up to a boast. Failure to live up to a boast was
a disappointment, that would have to be made good later ; failure to
honor a sacred oath was perjury, plain and simple.
It seems to me that your suggestion of bringing "brags and boasts"
back to something more audacious and the result of competing poets
trying to outdo each other in praise --- "competitive praise" ---
restores bragging and boasting back to a more Folkloric form. One can
open up many books on American folklore, for example, and find Tall
Tales and Brags, but I've never seen anyone connect these to the
boasts and brags in the Meadhall. No doubt these folkloric forms being
separated from religion for over a thousand years have spun off on
their own and become far more exaggerated, but it sounds like you are
suggesting that there was an element of the boaster in brags to begin
with --- yet, it was given a religious context.
To boast in this way is to egg each other on to something greater than
one has accepted, and to place oneself within the pathways set down by
the Gods. Can one aspire to do deeds like they did? Eliade
convincingly argues that even heroes are remembered doing deeds that
Gods originally did ; perhaps your theory on brags is the mythopoetic
theory that ties all this together".
Let me try to nuance and expand. Before writing, IE traditions were oral, passed
down within families and folk. They admit and incorporate within that passing
down that they pass on what they best remember. While I agree with Rydberg that
there is an original proto-epic, in a way, that was not the important thing in
practice -- how one lived. Visiting some of the isolated IE tribes, I was struck
that these families had their own tales and version of tales that brought to
life what we find in older materials. Analogy: ever been to a series of family
re-unions where the "tales" or "lore" of what so and so did don't exactly match
but form a living family history? In many respects, ancient theology was
something we might have no sense of, good and maybe true and honorable rumors
that inspire a folk to not only thrive but strive. They admit they don't have
the complete lore (if there is such a thing) nor that their collectively
inherited lore (from the
gathered families or tribes or folk) totally agrees. Why do they hold true to
it and value it? 1. It is the traditions my family passed on to me and I owe who
I am to my family. 2. It is not what you believe but what you do. Ancient
religions are what scholars call "orthodpraxic" (correct practice) rather than
"orthodoxic" (correct belief). So, anciently, it was not a matter of correct
knowledge or even agreed upon "belief" (a cheap commodity, which is why
Christianity spread most quickly amongst the multi-generational slave class in
Rome) but what your elders taught you on how to live with honor (and they would
opportunistically draw upon the bits of multiple versions of the inherited lore
they knew that helped make the point on a particular occasion). In terms of
orthopraxy, the rest was correct ritual and rites. They were sure there was "one
true story" (Rydberg) but had a great tolerance for the fact they no longer
remembered entire and had to hold
onto the conflicting stories -- to the extent they made better sons. That is
the larger context within which myth, lore (note, lore rather than dogma),
boasts and brags fit -- inspiring greater deeds.
Book Recommendation Dyaus Pitar = Varuna, was Tyr and Varuna
Another study that by its cover appears not to be on this subject but rather on a totally separate topid of the development of Hindu drama out of Vedic ritual, I recommend (along with most IE and Indologists),
KUIPER, F.B.J., Varuna and Vidusaka. On the origin of the Sanskrit drama. Oxford, 1979. (Leiden Series Description)
A new approach to Vedic religion and an attempt to demonstrate, by means of a detailed analysis of Bharata's Natyasastra, that the oldest form of the Sanskrit drama was a religious coronation ceremony performed for the samraj (universal sovereign) involving the king (embodiment of Varuna) and involving a reiteration of the cosmogony where Varuna (Dyaus) and king become father of the races of gods and men aimed at the renewal of the world that restores fallen Yama.
Vayu/Odinn Shape-shifting and vampires
On one of the lists I discovered, there was a question about Odinn/Vayu and shapeshifting and vampires. Later, I will post a summary of the works I recommend on the topic of vampires or shape-shifters and Odinn if there is any interest. Anyway, an academic list -- some in German - of solid works.
Kershaw, Kris. The One-eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-) Germanic M\E4nnerb\FCnde. Journal of Indo-European Studies. Monograph No. 36.
Wikander, Stig. Vayu: Texte und Untersuchungen zur indo-iranischen Religionsgeschichte : T. 1. Texte, Uppsala, 1941.
Wikander, Stig. Der arische M\E4nnerbund : Studien zur indo-iranischen Sprach- und Religionsgeschichte , Uppsala, 1938.
Re: Vayu/Odinn Shape-shifting and vampires
The original idea isn't sinister. According to the works I mentioned (also found in Dumezil's work on the IE warrior and Lincoln's book on Priests, Warriors and Cattle), there were two types of IE warrior. In today's parlance, we might make the comparison of the distinction between regular rank and file army grunts and special operations.
The regular IE troops fought in formation with coordinated war-chariot and later cavalry tactics. They were under Indra/Perkunas/Thor's protection and patronage.
The special ops warriors were more involved in magic and altered states of consciousness. They were fraternally initiated into totemistic and shamanistic warrior-bands. Prominent totems were the bear, the wolf, the boar, and something else that we can't quite make out but is the origin of the later vampire motif. They were the earthly equivalent of the Rudriyas/Maruts/Wild Hunt. They were under the protection and patronage of Vayu/Rudra/Siva/Odin. In a manner similar to the priests working to build up brahman through effective and powerful mantras, these warriors would work up brahman through drinking (Soma/haoma/Ambrotas/Ambrosia/a special Mead) and psych each other up in true boasts reciting their "warrior resume", so to speak. In the process, there would come upon them the "divine fury spirit" or isma deva (in Sanskrit) or aesma deva (in Avestan) (think of a military holy roller pentecostal service) where their mantras became even more powerfully effective. This spirit came from Vayu/Rudra/Siva/Odin as they became "possessed" with the esprit de corp of the Rudriyas/Maruts/Wild Hunt. They would take on the animal characteristics of the totem animal of their warrior fraternity. The literature said they were shapeshifters who became their totem animal. Some would become bears and this is where we get the word "beserk" from "beserker" the IE root meaning of which is "wearing a bear skin". Related terms say they were "werebears". Those of the wolf fraternity became verevraka or werewolves. Those of the boar fraternity became wereboars. And those of the other fraternity, something that in later legend is re-envisioned as vampire.
These beserker forces were the terrifying special ops of ancient IE armies. We know that the "whatever it was unknown origin" of the vampire was a stealthy infiltrator of enemy camps and position at night bringing death to the enemy in their sleep.
That summarizes the findings of the studies I recommended. This whole style of being a shamanistic shape-shifting warrior empowered/inspired by ismadeva/aesmadeva was one of the practices Zarathustra demonized. The Gathas condemn this warrior cult on ingesting Haoma. Zarathustra thereby splits Vayu into the "good Vayu" and the "bad Vayu". The fury spirit of beserkers, aesmadeva, becomes the demon of shapeshifting fury or demon possession. This aspect of the Zoroastrian reformation influenced Judaism and Christianity. This aesmadeva becomes the demons of shapeshifting wrath named Asmodeus. Ring a bell?
This Zoroastrian reformation appears to have spread its influence throughout the eastern Iranian world (which included at the time Scythia and Sarmatia). This had consequences. In Lithuanian pagan religion, Velnias (Vayu) is already regarded with suspicion and slowly becoming a devil before Christianity gets to the Baltics.
Re: Vayu/Odinn Shape-shifting and vampires
One piece of evidence in the Gathas is that these warriors, with nothing to do, began to prey on their own people. The complaint in the Gathas appears to be farmers losing livestock to these warriors turned restlers. Off hand, I believe it is found in the hymn to Mithra. Lincoln discusses it but another place to check is Malandra's (I'm going by memory) Introduction to Ancient Zoroastrianism.
By the way, these studies note that the Romans had the wolf totem. The Sarmatians (an Iranian people still practicing the pre-Zoroastrian Indo-Iranian religion) in the east recognized the Baltic Velinas as their Vayu on the basis of the cult and shape-shifting practices. The Sarmatians in the west served as mercs in the Roman cavalry. They were stationed in Britain. After the fall of Rome, they were a settled part of Romano-Celtic Britain. Apparently, the evidence is skimpy, they were sort of nonplussed by their encounter with the boar-beserkers of the Saxons (who did have helms with a boar crest on some).
Re: Vayu/Odinn Shape-shifting and vampires
I will pull up secondary sources but even the Rgveda, at its earliest strata (before book 10 where gods are identified with gods), Vayu is named Rudra. He is nicknamed "siva" or "auspicious one". In several hymns, Vayu is leader of the Maruts (they are loaned to Indra but they are Vayu's which is very clear in the Rgveda as a primary source). In several hymns, the Maruts are called the Rudriyas. So. these connections are tight, unassailable, and established in the primary source. Vayu is identical to Rudra. This connection goes backover two hundred years and has not ever been challenged. In addition, Vayu is sometimes called the "one eyed" and sometimes referred to as the "wisdom eyed" which later becomes the third eye of Siva. Vayu, while leader of the warrior-dead and battle-field slain, does not seem to personally fight except through magic, and as the one who choses the slain off the battlefield. Vayu is the shamanic figure.
Now, obviously, we do not have a primary source that links Vayu and Odin. But nearly all Indo-Europeanologists, Indologists, and Germanologists agree on linguistic grounds as well as character roles in stories that Vayu is indeed Odin. Polome for a while tried arguing that the PIE root for Vayu-Odin was the same as that for Varuna (in his work of Germanic Religion and in his early 1970s piece?? found in Myth and Law Amongst the Indo-Europeans, Puhvel editor). I don't remember the exact title. But he later gave up on the attempt to argue for the identity of Odin and Varuna (one motivating factor was he really wanted to see the Indo-European sovereign god be the original behind Odin but he could only do that if he could make the case of the already solidly identified Odin-Vayu being the same as Varuna) because the advances in PIE linguistics made it almost certain the two roots were separate, the root for Varuna means "binder" and the root for Vayu-Odin is "fury" and the work of the school of Dumezil convinced him Odin originally belonged to the warrior level of the tripartite IE pantheon instead of the sovereign level. The identification of Odin and Vayu, by the way, is one Rydberg also agrees with. But I can come up with the bibliography. But this identification is about as solid as the claim there is an Indo-European family of languages, cultures, and religions.
Re: Vayu/Odinn Shape-shifting and vampires
The later Siva retains some of the earlier Rudra but has a whole elaborate non-IE overlay. I guess a good analogy would be what French cooking does to an original ingredient. Also, the original warrior function drops out and is replaced with a nonIE orgiastic replacement.
The locus classicus of studying the question of the similarites and differences between the two would be the Mahabharata. This is widely acknowledged as containing much of Indo-European myth, epic, and saga and in a way, when lined up with the Persian Shahnama, the Eddas, the Celtic epics, is in some respects a better place to compare Indo-European myths and epics (and in light of Rydberg's proto-narrative thesis) for the original narrative comparing characters and comparing episode by episode of the stories. It is in reference to these documents, side by side (more than the Rgveda where the hymns mostly elude to myths that are presupposed in allusion than told), for example, that comparison of the various stories of the Twin (*yemo, Tuisto, Yima, Yama, Prajapati-Purusha, Ymir, Yayati) is done to reconstruct the original whole (see Dumezil, Destiny of the King, Lincoln's Myth, Alf Hiltebetel the Ritual of Battle), that Dyaus-Varuna-Tyr and Nuada are compared to reconstruct the original whole, that the whole battle of the Mahabharata is compared to Ragnarok (this is part of Hiltebeitel's study) which leads to the conclusions that the Hindu-Indian materials lost these because it is attested in all the other sources, that common to IE cultures is a world mill related to ages of the world, the enemies in the Mahabharata are nicknamed after animals that match the animals in the Eddic accounts, and that Dyaus-Tyr is not a combatant killed in the final battle (so, all sources agree with the lack of Tyr's presence in the Poetic Edda and conflict with his fate in the Prose Edda. Also, the blood bond between Odin and Loki have no corresponding material in these other sources and since there is only one reference to this in the Germanic materials -- its probably Christian sabotage inserted by later Christian editors). So, this would be the place to study the Vedic Siva vis a vis Odin verses the post-Vedic Siva of classical Hinduism.
Re: Indo-European Approaches to Poverty
We must remember that the Indo-Europeans did not have modern population levels, modern societies, and modern economies. For example, the very word "economy" goes back to the ancient Greek oikonomia meaning "household". Older Indo-European roots behind the Greek tend to have the same meaning with additional related meanings such as "managing the family freehold/homestead", "orderly familial relations", "domestic and private religion of the family", "health of stock and kin", "familial reciprocity and kinship obligations vis a vis the family's "wealth" and so on. The original caste system was within a family or extended kinship system. So, the "kings" and "warriors" and "priests" were family members with special status and extra familial obligations. Look at your extended family of just a few years ago. Without the "formal ceremony" of caste recognition, there is a
person(s) who are the decision-makers and speakers-for-the-family (even if some disagree, they keep silent), there is the person(s) everyone tends to go to for advice (often the same person is the family archivist -- long memory or whatever), etc.
Justice in modern times has two aspects, distributive and retributive. Distributive would fall under oikonomia. So would much of retributive. But what shape this took depended on the group's resources. Did the IE perform human sacrifice? Yes. But it tended to be the violent criminals or untrustworthy ones or prisoners of war. Think of the manpower our modern criminal justice system requires to make it possible. Think of the social resources needed for that kind of manpower. If you are a small group mutually dependent for each other's survival plus everyone is needed in that task fulltime, what do you do with the elements that threaten you? Send them to jail? Where and guarded by whom? Banish them? Sometimes but if there is a chance that they may form up into bands that come back to raid and kill your group that is not a solution. Or you captured some in war. Unless one has made a peace to be trusted, you can't afford the manpower to stand watch and guard prisoners. So, if no exchange, you kill them. Since everything in traditional socieites is supposed to be a sacred action, capital punishment was a sacrifice to the gods. In fact the old IE words for such also mean excommunication or throwing out the human circle or "becoming the gods property (i.e., "turned over to the gods as something the fragile human circle can't safely handle"). This is the original in ancient Rome of the word "sacrilege". As IE societies evolved into larger civilizations, and the means to deal with these types of issues provided different solutions, they were found. In the areas (usually northern) where the more archaic small-scale social units were maintained so were the old dilemmas that the older, and apparently to us barbaric, solutions solved remained. Thus, while the ancient Romans remembered they too, when they were like the Celts -- small tribal bands instead of a city had human sacrifice to the gods for the protection of their bands, they were nevertheless shocked that for many crimes the penalty was capital punishment (with Celts as well as Germans as well as Romans, there were three matching kinds based on which god was most offended, for example, Lug-Odin-Vayu the penalty was hanging -- BTW, IE capital punishment is another way to add an additional comparative piece to establish a gods/goddesses identity) because Celts did not have the capacity to build and man prisons.
Now if you look at the RgVeda hymns to Varuna, you will find several that will list our obligations to family, extended kin, friend, enemy, and a stranger-outsider. So, these give a good idea of the moral or ethical content of the IE code.
Asvins: Brief Note
The Asvins, in their cultural variations in all IE cultures outside the Germanic are strongly associated with fertility and medicine. They are twins. They have strong hippomorphic characteristics and have been compared, with more or less lack of final consensus on this last comparison, with the Sanskrit Gandharvas and Greek Centaurs (and the Greek Dioscouri). Some comparisons of them to Germanic lore compare them to Freyr-Freyja - also with not a strong final consensus. In Zoroastrianism, they are still sometimes referred to by their other Vedic name Nasatyas (the physically, and thus, incontestably oldest attested IE document lists sovereigns Mithra Varuna, warriors Vayu Indra, and the fertility-health-prosperity gods Nasatyas in a treaty between the Medes and Hittites) become Haurvatet (wholeness, health) and Ameretet (immortality). This is also what the Asvins are in the pagan religion of the Prussians, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, and Slavs.
Here is the basic reconstruction, culled from numerous sources, of the
Zoroastrian "plot" to its version of the proto-narrative.
It was missed until recently because scholars paid attention to the texts
instead of the Zoroastrian liturgical cycle which enacts "the history of the
world". Remember, of the Avestan texts, all that mostly remains is the Yasna
(the Gathas are inside the Yasna and that is why they have two numbers -- we
western scholars extracted the Gathas out and gave them the status they have in
the minds of many as stand alone scriptures). Imagine the Bible being destroyed
but all that remained of it was its liturgical use in church liturgy. The Yasna
is the Zoroastrian ritual or missal book.
It would then be the liturgical cycle that re-enacts the lost mythic narrative.
To begin with, a core part of Zoroastrian myth is not seen until one sees how
stories and allusions to the principal players involved play out in the fact
that Zoroastrianism has two new years: No Ruz, Mihragan. The Zoroastrian
religious calendar, tied to the liturgy, gives some further evidence. Without
going into all the whys and wherefores and so on, here is the narrative.
The world has two levels or states. One is a spiritual-spirited-energy state
called in Middle Persian, menog. The world is attacked and wounded. The attack
has several aspects that are wrongly treated as separate stories but are part of
the same cosmic event. These are:
1. The cosmic soul is attacked and mortally wounded (the world is growing old or
terminal until its healing and refreshment at the end of time): the cosmic soul
is the cosmic man (Yima), the cosmic animal/bovine, and the cosmic plant/tree
(i.e., human animal, and vegetable kingdoms). The fall of Yima leads to the
slaying of his demonic shadow and usurper Vrtra the dragon. The fall of Yima
leads to the state of gayo-maretan or mortal life (originally it is NOT a person
but a state of being) so that Yima, as first to die, is asked to prepare his
vara under the cosmic mountain in the cosmic north to protect against the winter
age and until the war ends.
2. The world mill is rocked off its vertical axis and ever since wobbles.
Zoroatrian texts are aware of polar shift and claim this happened when the pole
star was Vaem. This star, known to the Hindus as Purva Phalguni, is also
attested in Hindu sorces as the time of the fall of Yama, and the time the
demons tried to wrestle the world-mill out of the hands of its owner, Varuna
Apam Napat, causing it to tip and wobble. Both Zoroastrian and Hindu sources
claim, then, that a major "something" happened that rocked the worldmill when
Vaem/Purva Phalguni was the pole star. Vaem/Purva Palguni is Delta leonis. It
would have been the polestar about 10,000 BCE.
3. With the spirit of Yima gone beyond and with his demonic carcass/dragon
killed, it is sacrificed and dismembered. Why?
In its spiritual state, the world is menog. The world is re-ordered into into a
defensive system that brings about a more solid physical world less amendable to
spirit's will. This state is getik in Middle Persian. Getik is where the warrior
gods take, so to speak, center stage to fight the battle and the older gods sort
of are in the background. Humans thus have TWO ancestral origins in IE myth.
They have a solar/divine ancestry from Yima (son of Vivasvant-Agni, and thus,
yes Heimdall -- I have the confirmation of Rydberg's identification of these two
ready to send off to WX) from the menog world. They have a lunar ancestry
from the getik world. Here the ancestors are Mah and Mahranag (both of which
mean "moon" which is "Mah" in Middle Persian). This _re-ordering_ is called
bundahishn. NOTE WELL: the original creation is called dai-pad in Middle
After the world exists, there are two subsequent "age" transitions. These are
bundahishn which is transforming the world of menog into the physical realm of
getik. Once we see dai-pad and bundahishn in the context of the liturgy we see
that bundahishn is not the original creation of the world but its strategic
re-ordering for defense which is also the making of it a material world or
getik. The next major world transforming event is frashkart. This is the
restoration of the world, the healing of the world soul's mortal wounds gained
in the initial attack. Besides these two events, the world has 3 main ages.
Dai-pad (time of the original menog creation)
gumesicisn (time of getik and mixture)
wizarishn (time of restoration and separation of good /evil and menog from
Bundahishn is the transition between dai-pad and gumesicisn. Frashkart is the
transition after the war from the getik state of mixture or gumesicisn (good and
evil mixed, spirit and matter mixed) back to a pure, made fresh, spiritual world
of menog (way back, someone asked about gnosticism and IE themes, here is the
root of it _THIS WORLD is an armed camp under seige).
Frashkart leads from gumesicisn (mixture of good and evil, spirit and matter) to
wizarishn (separation of good and evil, spirit and matter).
No Ruz or the first new year looks back to the events surrounding the attack and
fall of Yima and transition of bundahishn of the world from menog to getik.
Mihragan looks forward to frashkart as the reversal of bundahishn and the
restoration of all things as the world returns to menog.
Now, what does this have to do with Germanic mythology? Some recent IE scholars
have posited that the foreground account of origins in the Eddas recounts the
events of bundahishn and that there is discernible older strata, barely
mentioned but in light of Celtic, Baltic, Vedic and Zoroastrian materials, can
be surprisingly rich materials in what they do provide.
I have the citations but am trying to keep it brief. In Indo-Iranian materials
we have Dyaus pitar, Mitra (dayside), and Varuna (nightside) as three aspects of
the celestial-sovereign god function, Indra (day) and Vayu (night) as two
aspects of the atmospheric-warrior god function, and the Asvins as twin gods of
the terrestrial-producer god function.
Now, the sovereign god is married to a goddess jointly known as Aditi/Prithivi
(the argument for their identification has been made since MacDonald). The three
fates are three aspects of her. The sovereign god, as her partner in weaving
fate/karma, is owner of the worldmill and called in this aspect Apam Napat. The
sun, Surya, is their son. As part of the creation of the menog world, the sun is
given a chariot pulled by two horses, the day side of the sovereign god is given
a chariot of two horses, and the nightside of the sovereign god is given a
chariot of two horse. The sun's horses are quick-waker and might strength. Night
has one we know of called frosty mane and the day side has warming mane.
Varuna as Apam Napat has another name associated with his ownership of the mill
that is cognate to a Nordic figure, Mundilfari. The other aspects of the
sovereign god and his wife became a race of giants in the later Germanic myth.
As restored, here is the equivalents of the characters of the original creation
time before the re-ordering of the world of this epoch in the last paragraph.
The sovereign god is married to an original goddess (divided up into
mother-daughter later) corresponding to Aditi-Prithivi called Authr/Nott/Jorth.
Tyr's Varuna-nightside is Naglari and Norfi (later made two separate persons).
The dayside of the old sovereign god is Dellingr. The son of the sovereign god
is Vivasvant/Surya or Dagr/Sol. The same sources identify Vivasvant/Surya or
Dagr as an older form of Agni-Heimdall (which has three aspects celestial,
atmospheric, terrestrial), and Vivasvant/Dagr/Heimdall father Yama/Yima/Ymir
(later, the three castes) and after the
bundahishn re-ordering becomes the first teacher of the re-made humans in the
getik realm. Aspects weaving destiny of Authr/Nott/jorth or the Norns have as
their male partner the owner
of the worldmill, the sovereign god know in this aspect as Mundilfori. The
horses of the sun chariot also match the Indo-Iranian material. They are Arvakr
and Alsvithr. The same for sovereign god's nightside Hrimfaxi and Fjorsvartnir
and the dayside Skinfaxi and Glathr.
After some attack, these gods retire into the background as Odinn takes charge
of the world he re-orders for defense during the war.
I will have to work up a really, really, I mean really long biblio for this
cluster of identifications and reconstructions but the scholars who began this
line of reconstruction are Dumezil/Hiltelbeitel. Later, an MIT professor and
colleague contributed by reconstructing the myth of the worldmill in IE cultures
where these characters reappear in their original guise. Some suggestion of the
reconstruction going on is made by Brian Branston in his book Gods of the North
(Thames and Hudson) in the 1970s.
Re: Zoroastrian Plot, Gnosticism and Germanic Ramifications
I'll have to look it up. The Vedic and Avesta materials have a unbounded fire character.
The order of the cosmos is one of cooperative boundaries. One meaning of rta is dovetailing.
Hoenir, Baldr, Tveggi/ was Zoroastrian Plot, Gnosticism and Germanic Ramifications
Another little adjustment. The Bellows Poetic Edda has two mistranslations at the end of Voluspa. Hoenir is not working the prophetic sticks. He is working the sacrificial wands (hlautrith). Baldr returns and Tveggi returns. Bellows tries to identify Tveggi with Odinn. Almost all IE and Germanic scholars today recognize Tveggi as "Twin" and thus, like Yima leading the dead out of his vara after the war, Tuisto/Ymir/Tveggi returns from Hel.
Re: Two Brothers Fighting for Supremacy
The Zurvanite material is late and shows considerable re-working. The conflict between at the celestial level twins is between Spenta Mainyu and Angra Mainyu, sons of Ahura Mazda. The conflict between twins at the intermediate level is between the good Vayu and the evil Vayu. The conflict between twins at the terestrial level is between Yima and Manu.
Again, the best and recommended media where IE myth is embedded is the following materials side by side. This is the way you learn it in a graduate course. The Eddas, the Celtic Battle of Mag Turig and Mabinogi, the Shanama, the Mahabharata, and Livy's Early History of Rome. The results of these comparisons are what articles, book chapters, and monographs _presuppose_ a prior knowledge of. For example
Dyaus = Bhisma (Mahabarata) = Scaevola (Livy) = Nuada (Celtic) = Tyr
Another example, Yama vs Manu, Yima vs Manu, Tuisto vs Mannus, Remus vs Romulus
There is the story in Livy about Scaevola (sacrifices hand) and Cocles (one eyed berserker) that has a partial parallel in the Shahnama and in the Mahabharata. When reconstructed and the other tales pairing them are added, we find a tale of Nuada and Lug that adds confirmation.
Contrary to what WX posted, most of the evidence now for Tyr being the old high god is NOT linguistic. These sources provide overlapping characterization and plot development plus shared stories.
Re: Two Brothers Fighting for Supremacy
I forgot to add, Spenta Mainyu is also known as Spenta Mathra and Spenta Mithra.
At the human level, we need to add to the myth of Yama/Yima, Trita/Thraetona
Vrtahan/Verethragen, and a few others. By all accounts, Balder = Mitra/Mithra.
This intimately connects him with Aryaman/Irmin as an aspect or epithet of
the IE sovereign god.
Re: Two Brothers Fighting for Supremacy
Clarification: Those who think Balder is not a Christian import think he is Mithra/Mitra.
Re: Two Brothers Fighting for Supremacy
First, there are those that argue for a Christian origin of Balder. I disagree. In fact, in a long round about way I'd argue Christ as a myth is from Balder-Mitra-Mithra and imposed on the end of the world apocalyptic prophet Jesus.
Second, the gist of the argument is it is an old and widespread IE pattern that an aspect of the sovereign god is, by nature, incompatible with a world torn by war. This aspect disappears as the world gets worse. This aspect, although sovereign, cannot rule in this world and remain the best of the gods. Thus, in various ways (with several twists and turns, especially in Iranian materials where this aspect is the main fighter in the war and final battle as Mithra), this most beautiful of the gods returns at the end of time after the war is over. This return of the merciful aspect of the sovereign god restores the world mill in a way that fate as controlled by the sovereign god is not blind (Balder's blind brother being a reflex of Mundifori -- which is why even though sovereign there is a conflict between Odin and Mundifori because the later is blind and no longer fit to rule but rules as sovereign nevertheless). In the other IE materials this is Mitra, Mithra, Maitreya (IE material in Buddhism as is the Wheel of Life/Death as the Arta of Yama -- hence connections with Arthur and the Round Table). In light of the other IE material, this return of the best and merciful half of the sovereign god (who also restores its twin half that as sovereign still rules but is blind) in the Germanic material is none other than Balder.
Briefly, off the top of my head, refer to Dumezil The Gods of the North and Hiltebeitel The Ritual of Battle (a look at the Mahabharata in IE perspective and in particular, the Eddic material as lead up to Ragnarok).
Re: Two Brothers Fighting for Supremacy
Again, interlude dealing with all the rest, I guess I'll need to do an updated Zoroastrian biblio and outline (not inconsistent with the one provided but details filled in).
IE Ritual Part 1: Fires - Vedic and Roman
This post compares IE Vedic and Roman concepts as it pertains to IE ritual. Later, Zoroastrian ritual will be added with the objective to say something about northern Baltic, Germanic, and Celtic ritual.
This post briefly examines the terms fas, ius, religio, and pietas in terms of archaic Roman religious usage in light of contemporary research in Indo-European linguistics. Basically, what ius is to fas, pietas is to religio.
It seems to be the majority consensus of contemporary Latin philogy and Indo-European linguistics that fas is cognate to and derived from the same Indo-European root (*dhas) as the Vedic Sanskrit \93dharma\94 and ius is cognate to and derived from the same Indo-European root as the Vedic Sanskrit \93rta\94. Moreover, the semantic content and relations between these Indo-European roots and both their cognate Vedic and Latin derivatives are very similar. Just like the relation of the Vedic terms dharma and rta in Vedic religion, Dumezil tells us that Fas would be the mystical, invisible basis without which ius is not possible, and which sustains all the visible arrangements and relations defined by ius\85A time or a place are fasti or nefasti according as they provide or do not provide human activity with this mystical basis which is its principal security.(Dumezil, 131)
The semantic and relationship between the meanings and relations of fas and ius finds an analogous structure between religio and pietas. We will examine this relationship later but first we need to look briefly at the originals of these two terms.
According to the findings of contemporary linguistics, the cognate Indo-European roots for religio are *lig-,*leg-, *log- (from which, for example, we get legal, legate, college, ligament, ligature, intelligence, legein and logos amongst a plethora of other words). Following up on and reviewing the research of Franz Altheim, W. Ward Fowler, M. Kobbert, and W. Otto, C. Koch has argued that the most ancient concept opposed to religio is in the verb negligere. The oldest positive sense of religio, as W.C. Smith summarizes the research findings of these authorities, seems to be simultaneously \93to bind\94, \93to pay attention to\94, and \93to reconnect\94. Thus, Smith tells us the archaic Latin and Roman meaning of religio is \93to pay attention to\94, \93to be bound to\94, and \93to re-connect with\94 a numen, a numinous power outside a person profoundly obligating them to have great scrutiny in having certain responses, attitudes and actions toward it and religio is also the feelings, dispositions, conative and cognitive responses, and actions in a person arising from this contact with a numen, a numinous power that is a overwhelmingly awe-inspiring mystery (mysterium tremendum) displaying an awesome superiority of uncanny power and dignity (majestas) which irresistibly attracts and fascinates (mysterium fascinans). W.C. Smith explains that for the ancient Romans
The early phrase religio mihi est is illuminating. To say that such-and-such a thing was religio for me meant that it was mightily incumbent upon me to do it.(Smith, 20)
W.C. Smith informs us that, in contrast to the Greeks with their eye for form, especially for the Romans,
Ritual ceremonies themselves were designated religiones. This is \85 to be related to a Roman tendency to perceive what we would call the divine or the holy not so much\85in the form of a figure or \93god\94 as in a series of standardized acts. Whenever one
meets the word\85this is what is meant. The religio of a specified god designates the traditional cultic pattern at his shrine. (Smith, 20-21)
Smith\92s comments concur with and confirm the observations made by the great scholar of Roman religion, Franz Altheim, who wrote
The numen for the Roman is expressed not in the figure but in a succession of acts in which it encounters man.(Altheim, 181) Incidentally, this reason is partly why, legally, the statues and temples of Roman religion (as interpretatio graeca) had a lower legal civil status than the higher public Roman ritual, and thus, why strictly speaking, in terms of ius sacrum, the highest Roman religion always remained right up to the time it was made illegal an imageless and outside fire cult where all sacrifices were made outside and in front of the temple (actually, this description needs refined. The templum was the large platform that the building housing the statue of the divinity stood on. Just like the Vedic altar mound, the templum is a special geometric space worked out by a priest or augur in relation to the alignment of the heavenly, terrestrial and solar influences in the locale. Thus, templum is where we get the word template. In early Roman and Vedic traditions, each god had an energy-geometric representation. In the Indian tradition, this would evolve into the yantras of classical Hinduism. Native Roman gods had a templum. Import or foreign gods did not have a templum. Instead, they had a fanum. Basically, the difference is a templum is sort of like a magic circle or energy-geometric sacred enclosure. By contrast, the fanum was just a surveyed piece of land. In itself, the fanum was not sacred but was secular. The building itself was the Cella. It too was a secular structure incidental to the culus and templum). So just like its Vedic cousin.
Besides being a state of re-connection with a numinous power that obligates a person to attend to it with great scrutiny, religio as a state of being bound to a god\92s claims upon a person is brought out by the following Roman text.
Hoc uniculo pietatis obstricti deo et religati sumus. Nimirum religio veri cultus est, superstitio falsi et omnino quid cloas interest, non que mad modem colas. Diximus nomen religionis a uinculo pietatis esse deductum, quod hominem sibi deus religaverit et pietate constrinxerit.
As indicated earlier, the conceptual relation of religio to pietas is semantically and structurally similar to the relation between fas and ius. Pius, pietas, piare, piaculum, and expiare, as part of Roman religious terminology is quite ancient (Dumezil, ). This very early religious use is also attested by its religious usage in other Italic languages such as Volscian pihou (ibid., 132). Dumezil draws out the similarity in relation that exists between religio and pietas to that borne between fas and ius. In relation to religio, he observes,
the connotation of pius is allied to ius rather than to fas but with a moral rather than a juridical coloration. Pietas consists in conformity with normal, traditional, indisputable relationships\85which exist reciprocally between people\85or without reciprocity, between the individual and that which is superior to him \96 his country, the gods, and finally humanity.(ibid. 132-133)
It is partly due to this proximity of pius and pietas to ius in the relation pietas has to religio (as ius has to fas) that I used pietas in my prior legal outline of Roman religion.
Altheim, F. A History of Roman Religion.
Dumezil, G. Archaic Roman Religion. 2 vols. Johns Hopkins University.
Fowler, W.W. \93The Latin History of the Word \91Religio\92\94, Transactions of the Third International Congress for History of Religions, 2 vols. Oxford.
Kobbert M. De verborum religio atque religious usa apud Romanos quaetiones selectae. Konigsberg.
Koch, C. Religio.
Otto, W. \93Religio,\94 Archiv f\FCr Religionswissenschaft. 12: 533-554.
Public Fires of Rome and Vedic Srauta Fires
There are some differences between the two religions when it comes to public sacrifices but even as exceptions prove the rule, these differences prove deeper similarities. For example, the major difference that develops between the Vedic and Roman cult is the
sacrificial forum of the Indian cult remained one where all the fires are in immediate proximity to each other (a few feet apart) We find the same Vedic type of layout in an archaic sacrificial forum under a very ancient cippus (dating back earlier than 600 BCE, it was tiled over in 580 BCE, and then paved) under the southern edge of the Forum. So, the Romans originally had the same size of layout as the sacrificial mound in the Vedic sacrifice. What happened was they made the whole city of Rome the sacrificial forum. The whole city was a templum and altar. The legend of Romulus' plow is recognized as (when compared to Vedic materials) the marking out of the sacred templum for sacrifice. Digs suggest the earliest walls of Rome served a liturgical function as much as defense. So, in effect, the whole city was a Vedic sacrificial mound. The sacred public fires of
the sacrificial forum became the fires of the entire city of Rome as a sacred space.
Another part of Roman ius sacrum that is part of public law is the liturgy of the state's cult of the three sacred public fires. As noted, Roman religion, like the Vedic cult, was originally an imageless and outdoor fire cult. It legally and ritualistically remained such (the statue of the divinity and the cella or building housing it were secular ornaments of the sacred templum. No rituals were conducted inside the cella. All rituals were outside to the close of Roman paganism). Liturgically, in conformity to the canons of the ius publicum or ius sacrum, it remained so despite the temples and their cultic images the Romans imported from the Greeks. Once again, for emphasis, the cella and statue were secular ornaments (many \93donated\94 by prominent families who also thereby were promoting themselves. Some cellas and statues are outright political propaganda). The public sacrifices were never inside the temples (the cellas) but outside of them. As numerous scholars have observed, these three public fires of Rome correspond to the three Vedic Srauta fires and the rites of both cults are very similar.
Lets look at these fires and altars in comparison to the Vedic cult. First, in both cults, the Roman public and Vedic Srauta fires are not liturgically independent of each other. They are liturgically interdependent.
First, there is the Volcanus fire. It is a semi-circular and southwestern fire outside of thewalls of Rome to vigilantly keep away aerial demons and enemies from the sacred boundaries of Rome. It is also the fire of the ancestors. The previously mentioned old sacrificial mound excavated on the southern edge of the Forum had the Volcanus fire southwest of the other fires just where it should be if it paralled Vedic ritual. The Volcanus corresponds to the Vedic daksina fire. The daksina fire is also a semi-circular, southwestern, and aerialfire that also guards, like the Volcanus, the sacred enclosure and mound of Vedic sacrifice. The daksina fire is also the one that offerings to the ancestors were burned in. As noted, the main difference between the Roman and Vedic cult is the size of the sacred enclosure or mound. In early Roman religion (as excavated in the southern tip of the Forum) and in the Vedic cult, this enclosure or mound was small and all the fires were close together. From the time of Roman kings down to the close of the public pagan temples, the city of Rome was itself the sacred enclosure or mound. So, its fires were not immediately next to each other. So, a difference between the Roman Volcanus and Vedic daksina is that the Volcanus was outside the city whereas the daksina is right next (but to the southwest) to the other fires of the Vedic Srauta sacrifice.
The second fire is the ignis vestae tended by the Vestal Virgins. It is the public hearth of the cultus of Roma as urbs aeterna. It is the basic public fire. It has a corresponding fire in each Roman home as the ever-lit sacrificial fire of the private and domestic cult of the Roman family. When couples were married (depending on the legal style of marriage, there were several) and started a new household, their new domestic sacrificial hearth fire was either lit from the two families\92 hearth fires or the public hearth fire or both. All other public fires are lit from it. It is a round fire dedicated to the earth and to the gods and goddesses of the earth, cereal, fertility, cattle, and herds that are collectively (quirites divi) represented by Quirinus. In other words, it is the terrestrial fire. The ignis vestae corresponds to the Vedic garhapatya fire. Like the ignis vestae fire, the Vedic garhapatya fire is the Srauta hearth in Vedic sacrifice, it is the first Srauta fire to be lit and all other Srauta fires are to be lit from it. Also like the ignis vestae, the Vedic garhapatya is a round fire dedicated to the earth and to the vaisya order of gods and goddesses of the earth, fertility, and herds collectively (visvah devah) represented by the Asvins. The garhapatya fire is also where new married couples in Indian lit their new hearth fire if they set up a new household. Otherwise, the new hearth fire is lit from the parents\92 fires or both. The main difference between the Roman and Vedic cult with respect to the Roman ignis vestae and Vedic garhapatya fire is again due to the size of the sacred enclosure or mound. The garhapatya fire itself is located on the mound immediately next to the other two Vedic Srauta fires. Since Rome as urbs was the sacred enclosure or mound, at the time of sacrifice, a portable ignis vestae from the original fire tended by the Vestal Virgins had to be brought to the immediate sacrificial site in front of the temple. This portable ignis vestae was called the foculus fire. It is to the west (sinistra) of the sacrificial fire, the ara or altaria. The foculus was also round. Its liturgical function in a Roman public sacrifice is almost an exact match to the function of the garhapatya fire (which is also the fire left and usually west to the main sacrificial fire, the ahavaniya) in a Vedic Srauta sacrifice.
The ignis vestae as public hearth fire of the Romans, like its Vedic garhaptya counterpart was immensely important. Without the ignis vestae in Roman religion and without the garhaptya in Vedic ritual no public rites or domestic rites could be performed.
The attempt to do so is such a grave form of impietas that in both cults such an act could result in the penalty of death, \93excommunication\94, and total forfeiture of ones caste privileges and wealth in both cultures.
In Roman ius sacrum, the attempt to conduct public games, public sacrifices without an ever-burning vestal fire, the attempt to put out the ignis vestae, or even domestic rites with the family lararium without the family domestic hearth fire being first lit from the public hearth fire or an older family homestead was such a grave offense that such persons were subject to legis sacramentum -- a mortal ordeal as penance to the gods.
Originally, this penalty was a harsher and earlier death penalty as human sacrifice to the gods as a public penance for such a grave offence on the part of the people as a whole to have such a sacrilegious one in their midst.
Later, in Republican times legis sacramentum became a religious test of ordeal by the divine to the death with forfeiture of the family's entire estate to the state if the person did not survive the ordeal. To summarize, in both Roman and Vedic cults, public or srauta sacrifices could not be performed without the sacred public ignis vestae fire of Rome or the srauta garhaptya fire of Vedic religion. Further in Rome, there could not be any sacred public fires of Rome without the public hearth fire without the Vestal Virgins.
The status of the ignis vestae and garhaptya fires have profound implications for the domestic cult of the household in both Roman and Vedic religion. As indicated briefly above, there could be no domestic cult (such as to the lararium) without the public fire of the Vestals because the domestic hearth fire had to be lit from it (part of the religious marriage ceremony was when a new domus was set up was its hearth fire had to be lit from the public Vestal fire before lars and genius could be installed in the new home).
The same regulations apply in Vedic marriages and setting up a new household for the three higher castes.
The ancient Roman sense of the importance of that public hearth fire tended by the Vestals was that without it there was no hearth and home for the Roman people. There was no Rome.
To return to our comparison of Roman and Vedic ritual, we look at the ara fire in the Roman cult and the ahavaniya fire of the Vedic cult.
The third fire and altar (to the right and east of the foculus) is the ara or altaria. It is the
sacrificial fire lit at the time of sacrifice in which the previously cooked organs and some of the meat is burned completely. It is a square fire dedicated to the celestial realm. It is
an exact match to the Vedic Srauta ahavaniya fire if we compare the excavated sacrifice pit under the Forum to a Vedic fire mound. The ahavaniya fire (to the right and east of the garhapatya) is square, dedicated to the celestial sphere, and is the one in which are burnt the previously cooked organs and some of the meat of the sacrifice.
As already noted, any higher sacrifices (Vedic srauta, Roman publicum), in both Vedic and Roman cults, were to take place outside. In both cults, the ritual procedure to establish the Srauta or public fires is exactly the same. First,from the public hearth fire the Srauta garhapatyagni or publicum ignis vestae fire is kindled and in both cults it is said the latter are five times more powerful. Second the other two Srauta or publicum fires (daksina or volcanus, the ahavaniya or ara, altaria) are kindled. In the Roman public cult on the Capitoline or in the Regia, there was the southern protecting fire outside the walls (instead of there on the mound as in the Vedic cult) and there was the portable hearth fire" or foculus brought from the ignis vestae (both corresponding to the garhapatyagni) and the "fire of sacrifice" or ara, altaria (corresponding to the ahavaniya).
The Domestic Cult
Another component of both Vedic and Roman religion where there are strong parallels is the domestic religio of the pater familias. Its daily, annual, and family cycle (birth, death, marriage) rites correspond in many ways to the Vedic grhyayajna domestic cult
again reflecting the fact that the Romans were originally an Indo-European tribe sharing the same religion with those tribes that turned south andheaded to India and Iran.
Like its cousin, the Vedic Grhya cult, the Roman domestic cult had the same prerequisite and supporting roles to the publicum cult that the Vedic Grhya had to the Srauta or haviryajna sacrifices. Both domestic cults were fire cults. In both, the domestic fire was
the sacred fire of worship, sharply contrasted with the secular cooking fire, and both were called the \93marriage fire\94.
In both, before the domestic altar could be consecrated, the domestic fire had to be lit from the public ignis vestae in Roman religion or the parents fire and the domestic
garhaptya grhyayajna fire had to be kindled from the garhaptya srauta fire in Vedic ritual or the parents fire.
In both, when the domestic hearth fire was lit when the young male had become free of the Roman or Vedic pater familias and was a free householder on his own.
In both, if the domestic fire accidentally went out, it was to be re-lit either by rubbing two sticks together (symbolizing its earthly origin and status) or by being re-kindled from the ignis vestae or gahapatyayagni fire or parents fire.
Both the Vedic and Roman domestic cult was also a cult to the ancestors with many similarities between the two. The Roman pater familias cult addressed the Penates, Lares, Manes, and Genius of the family. Lares and Lemurs are Etruscan terms in origin. But the original Roman concept can still be seen behind these two names due to the Latin inscriptions on Roman domestic altars and sarcophagi. In the Indian cult, depending on how they lived, there were good ancestors, who took a northern, eastern, solar, and deifying path of immortality to join the devas, and bad ancestors, who took a southwesternly (thus, one reason for the daksina and volcanus fires location), lunar, and infernal path of the fathers. We find the same in the Roman domestic cult of the ancestors from pre-Republican times on. The good, deified ancestors were divi parentes who attained the immortal and deified status of di superi, extra anni solique vias, and pax aeterna by taking the northeasternly solar path of the divi. It is to them that the daily food, incense, water, and flower sacrifices were made. Their festival was the Parentalia in February and it was characterized by rites of welcome. The bad ancestors were the infernal shades and lemurs that took the southwesternly lunar path and had to be exorcised (interestingly, with black beans) and placated (animas placare paternas) in rites of riddance on Lemuria in May (9th, 11th, 13th). This parallels Vedic practices except for the calendar.
This domestic ritual reflects the twofold ancestry of the human race in Indo-European myth. Humans have a solar and semi-divine ancestry through *yemo (meaning \93twin\94, Yama, Yima, Ymir, Tuisto). This figure is the son of Vivasvant and the origin of the castes. This ancestry also has connections to the role of and interconnections between Vivasvant, Agni, and Heimdall. The other origin of humans is lunar and terrestrial. They are variously born of a plant/tree. But detailed consideration of this mythological backdrop is beyond the scope of this discussion.
To conclude with a note on the imperial cult of the deified emperor and/or emperor's genius is not all that new to Roman religion but is partly an extension of the domestic cult as can be seen by the fact that the altars of the deified emperors were of the domestic cult type \96 not public type. If it took on imported and eastern trappings, it had a solid Roman
foundation and precedent to build upon.
Further Noteworthy Parallels: A Few Comparisons of Regulations for the flamen Dialis
and a Brahman. Later, we can add to this list what we know of similar regulations governing that of Druids.
Lets look at one of these areas. Part of Roman public or sacred law dealt with regulating the lives of the priesthood. Both the Vedic brahman and the Roman flamen dedicated to the old high god Jupiter (Dies Fides) or Dyauspitr Varuna (Latin, Jupiter,
Dies pitar, Uranus, Sanskrit, Diespitr, Dyauspitr,Varuna) live by essentially the same regulations as illustrated by these selections from the Roman Ius Publicum and the
Indian Laws of Manu below -
1. a. The flamen Dialis cannot be forced to swear an
oath or bear witness.
b. The brahman cannot be forced to swear an oath or be
subpoenaed as a witness.
2. a. The flamen Dialis must not set eyes on the army.
b. The brahman must not see the army or conduct
religious activities in its proximity.
3. a. The flamen Dialis must not mount or touch a
b. The brahman must not ride a horse.
4. a. The flamen Dialis must not eat raw meat or beef.
b. The brahman must not eat meat.
5. a. The flamen Dialis must not go near a funeral
b. The brahman must not go near a funeral pyre or even
be touched by its smoke.
6. a. The flamen Dialis must avoid fermented
b. The brahman must not ingest intoxicants.
7. a. The flamen Dialis must not touch or speak about
b. The brahman must not touch a dog, dog breeders, and
must not study the Vedas when he hears a dog barking.
8. a. The flamen Dialis must never, not even at night,
doff entirely the insignia of his priesthood nor
his sacred cord nor see his wife, the flaminica,
entirely in the nude.
b. The brahman must never be stark naked nor remove
his sacred cord which is the sign of his status nor
see his wife entirely nude.
9. a. The flamen's person is sacrosanct, laying hands
on him is death.
b. The assault or killing of a brahman is death.
A difference between the Roman and Indian law in this respect stems from the fact that the Roman priests were specialists for life within a single capacity and office that excluded them from the other priesthoods within the college of pontiffs of flamine maiores. By contrast, brahmans became more omni-competent or multi-taskers in Vedic ritual. The Indian context did not lead to the specialization of the Roman pontiffs as noted by several scholars in comparing Roman and Vedic religions. While among the Celts, the druids appeared to have life-long purity code similar to the above, since the priesthood as a special caste all but disappeared in Germanic culture, it has been suggested that such regulations were for whoever was conducting the ritual and was for a limited time before and during.
As we shall see, these fires are also found among the other Indo-European peoples of Europe, such as the Celts and Germans. Again, as we saw above, the key fire was the hearth fire described as \93everlasting fire\94 of northern European cultic sites in what textual references we have available to us. Also, at the Celtic and Germanic sites that have been excavated, the hearth fire is consistently round and the western fire. The sacrificial fire is due east of it. Remains in these northern fire pits show that the round and terrestrial hearth fire was used to prepare the food (chemical analysis shows that stuff cooked in the first fire was transferred and burned even more in one or both of the other two fires). A portion of this food was burned in the sacrificial fire dedicated the the gods or was burned in a semi-circular fire due south of the hearth fire dedicated to the ancestors. The rest of the food was consumed by the people gathered.
Re: Voluspa 63: tveggja
Bruce Lincoln, drawing from research from 1930s to present, argues cogently that an intrinsic part of IE motifs in world creation, world maintenance, and world transformation depends upon the sacrifice. At the transition between ages, Yama/Yima/Ymir/Tuisto is either sacrificed or is one of those, like Balder, that returns at the time of restoration after the war. In reference to Voluspa 59-63, in this context, Tveggi (the original twin sacrificed) returns (interestingly enough, not only with Balder but also, hinted, Odin as the wide wind home). That Hoenir's wands are the wands to layout and construct a new sacrifice/World (sacrifice being the microcosm and world or age being the macrocosm) and that these wands are the same as the Vedic Barhis and Avestan baresman, you can refer to Lincoln's book Lincoln (already provided in the Biblio given here) and
Ake Strom, "Indoremanisches in der Voluspa," Numen. 14 (1967): 179, 194.
For the rest, see
Stig Wikander, "Germanische und indo-iranische Eschatologie," Kairos 2 (1960): 83 etc...
Stig Wikander, "Fran Bravalla till Kuruksetra," Arkiv for Nordisk Filogi 75 (1960): 183 etc..
Georges Dumezil, Les dieux des Germains. (paris: PUF, 1959, pp. 78-105.
Georges Dumezil. Mythe et epopee. (Paris: Gallimard, 1968). I. 208-237.
Steven O'Brien. "Indo-European Eschatology: A Model," JIES. 4 (1976):295-320.
Axel Olrik. Ragnarok: Die Sagen von Wltunterung (Berlin: Walter Guyter 1932)
Will-Erich Peucert, "Germanishe Eschatologie," Archiv fur REligionswissenschaft 32 (1935) 1-37
Jan de Vries Altgermanishe Relgiongeschicte, II 397...
Karl Heim, "Weltwerden und Weltvergehen in altergermanische Sage, Dichtung und Religion," Hessische Blatter fur Volkkunde 38 (1940): 29-34
Kurt Schier, Die Erdschophopfung aus dem Urmeer und die Kosmologie der Voluspa" Marchen, Mythos, Dichtung: Festschrift fur Friedrich von der Leyen (Munich: C.H Beck, 1963) 303-334.
Linguistic example of one problem
Below, I mentioned the problem of even making out what a sentence says in ancient manuscripts since they are continuous with no spaces, capitalization, or punctuation (and in many cases, not just Hebrew, no vowels). Without knowing the context and possessing nonlinguistic information about what the author had in mind, the following scriptuo continua are undecible.
what is the correct word separation which would be the basis for translating this into another language?
Beginning of Bibliography Re: IE Ritual Part 1: Fires - Vedic and Roman
I am working up the biblio for this post. But here is one of the more recent books in the field that is much more extensive than what I posted here.
Indo-European Sacred Space: Vedic And Roman Cult
WOODARD ROGER D.
In "Indo-European Sacred Space, Roger D. Woodard provides a careful examination of the sacred spaces of ancient Rome, finding them remarkably consistent with older Indo-European religious practices as seen in the Vedas of ancient India. Employing and expanding on the fundamental methods of Emile Benveniste, as well as Georges Dumezil's tripartite analysis of Proto-Indo-European society, Woodard discovers not only the spatial dynamics of the archaic Roman cult but, stemming from that, an unexpected clarification of several obscure issues in the study of Roman religion.
Re: Re: Two Brothers Fighting for Supremacy
>>I think one of the difficulties in accepting Tyr as a supreme deity on this list
is our concentration on Germanic/Teutonic mythology. Tyr doesn't seem a
powerful entity in the surviving Icelandic poety.
: that is why I asked a while back about time-frame. Location is also
important. Later paganism had Odin as head god in some places, Freyr in others,
and Thor in others.
There is some suggestion that Anglo-Saxons retained more of the
hierarchical social structure of IE society and god's ranks among them
might have been according to class. Ignoring myth and looking at just
place-names, Tyr's name is found where there were maypoles and early assemblies
(thing), Woden ranked among warriors, and others among farmers.
Sweden, the hof of Uppsala had the three gods Odin, Thor, Freyr but central
Sweden the high god was Freyr. Swabians it was Tyr. Bavarians there was a triple
goddess with what appears to be an all-father combo of Tyr and Freyr
(this was compared by one scholar to Nuada and the Dagda as the Celtic allfather
since the sites in Bavaria are shared cultic sites between Celts and Germans,
both left votives at the same time, and this looks like a Celto-Germanic fusion
of peoples). Prussians and Balts, it was Deivos as high god of the sky and of
justice, Perkunas the thunder-rain god, Velnias the shape-shifting warrior god
and god of the dead, and so on.
>>It's possible for Try to originally have been the supreme deity in the
Northern pantheon, but for later religion to forget his earlier position and
relegate him to the current status in which we find him. Thus each view of Tyr
could be correct, at its own particular time-depth.
: right. Once again, that is why I inquired about time-frame. There is a
twofold methodological question that also gets confused if there is no clarity
about time-frame. First, if you just wish to focus on Germanic materials, then
to a limited extent you can ignore IE research. So, H.R. Ellis Davidson several
times acknowledges the research of Dumezil, acknowledges the correctness of his
results, but says she wants to bracket that off to study late stage Germanic
religion. She also acknowledges that
some IE material helps solve problems in such a Germanic only focus. But if you
are going to embark on a study of Germanic materials in light of Indo-European
traditions, then its a very different ball game. Then again, there might be some
methodological leakage. For example, Brain Branston is skeptical about the
degree to which Icelandic material is useful for Anglo-Saxon religion. As an
older phase of Germanic religion (just like the Continent), he argues that to
accurately reconstruct Anglo-Saxon religion in its distinctiveness apart from
Nordic traditions, it is necessary to look more closely at IE research.
>>But the difficulty for us to accept this comes from our own determination to
come up with "The Truth," and feeling we have done so, we now require more
extreme evidence than originally we did. Just as the anti-Rydbergians we were
contemplating earlier, we too tend to set our mental feet in perceptual concrete
once we find ourselves in a comfortable frame of mind.
: there might be another element. First, modern academia has three
research languages. To be current and competent, one is required to know these
three in order to read the research and secondary literature in academic
studies. These are German, French and English. The bulk of the latest Germanic
and IE articles and books are in German. Apparently, this is mostly an English
only bunch and that is a severe handicap. IE research in English has been
steadily dwindling partly due to the economic priorites of university hiring and
promotion policies (what areas of expertise do we want to fill). Zoroastrian
studies died back in the 80s. I know of only three in that field still working
and publishing in English.
Second, knowledge of ancient languages to read the primary sources in the
original. If you can't do that, you are, so to speak, guessing in the dark based
on someone else's guesswork with no means to evaluate the quality or probability
of their hypothetical interpretations in even translation.
Re: Re: Two Brothers Fighting for Supremacy
>>There's one more objection to Tyr as Sky-Father : An explanation of how he got demoted from the Zeus-position to the Mars-position.
: This is a simple methodological mistake and logical fallacy of reversing the order of observation and explanation. Explanations, even to even conceive there needs to be an explanation of......, presupposed already observed data that is what needs to be explained. We document the shift first. That is the unexplained data. Then try to hypothesis an explanation. To say an explanation of the data has to exist first before the existence of the data is admitted is absurd. You have to observe something needing explaining in order to even conceive there is a need for one. There are unexplained facts.
>>I think that's going to be an awfully difficult one to explain. Because of the slope of that explanation, burden of proof is on those arguing for Tyr as Zeus. I see absolutely no evidence for this.
: In other IE cultures, the primary sources themselves offer the "mythic" or "religious" or historical explanation. Why shouldn't it be parallel to German traditions?
>>Furthermore, I do not accept the idea that Scandinavian evidence is not broadly representative of heathenism in other areas. I do not subscribe to the particularist model that suggests that Anglo-Saxon heathenism cannot draw upon Scandinavian evidence. This is fallacious reasoning based on fragmentary sources. The sources must be used to complement each other.
: name the fallacy. There isn't one but which fallacy do you think it is? And can you be more specific of what "the particularist model"?
Please mention a scholar and a particular discussion they are engaged in that is an example. Otherwise, I don't think you are referring to any such beast. Plus, the Scandinavian material cannot be taken uncritically and without qualification. Otherwise, why would you even be interested in Rydberg?
To add a couple of yes and no questions and two follow up questions that I would like you to answer.
1. Do you think German culture and religion descended from an older Indo-European culture and religion? Yes or no.
If your answer is no, then why are you even worried about Indo-European material? Why not just throw that part of Rydberg out?
2. Do you deny that Odin was not the high-god in older Indo-European materials (e.g., that he is not the high god in the Rgveda, he is not the high god in Zoroastrian materials, etc.)? Yes or no.
If no, then the proper order of explanation is, observing his rise (as an end result if not the process) as the data is what also requires explanation.
>>Tacitus clearly stated that Mercury/Odin was the chief god ; and makes it clear that he was considered to be the Father of All. I see no evidence for anyone but Odin being in that position other than supposition and vain speculation.
: I could repeat some of what I said above in the immediately last section of my replies but will move on to a slightly different topic. Tacitus, strictly speaking, is not a Germanic source. He is a Roman observer of not the whole Germanic world but only of the couple of tribes he encountered. The difficulty (there is a German scholar of both Germanic religion and American Indian religion -- he sees strong parallels in how material has to be handled - Hultekrantz??) is that we have ddescriptions of the Dakota by travelers but we know for a fact that it is a mistake to generalize, as some scholars have in the past, what was observed of the Dakota to the Lakota (even though both tribes are kindred ones in the same nation) let alone all American Indians. The same applies to Tacitus.
Second query: if you are allowing Tacitus as evidence of Germanic material, why are you ignoring Byzantine material or Arab? That is where part of the discussion, mostly in German (which is where most of the academic discussion has been so if you are limited to English you are at a real disadvantage because the materials that observe the social and religious customs of Germanic tribes within the Byzantine sphere of influence have not been translated into English nor has the Arab material.
Its still in the original languages or in German. I think H.R. Ellis Davidson translated like one or two sentences from Byzantine materials on the manner of German sacrifice into English somewhere but I can't remember at this point without going through an elaborate search to find it.). The Byzantines interacted with more Germanic tribes than Tacitus and over a longer period of time. Some tribes served in the Imperial Guard with the right to remain pagan. Just to note the gist: Odin as head appears to be a northwest phenomenon. Southern and eastern German tribes he appears not to be. Are you ignoring these on purpose or you didn't know they existed? Again, as WX observed, there is not even a critical edition of the Eddas in English translation. English is sort of on the far out fringes of where the discussion is taking place so a lot of stuff wouldn't even be a blip on an English-speaker's radar.
BTW, while the West went through a "dark ages", the Byzantine east did not. Literacy remained high and even women were allowed to attend the University of Constantinople. Its the Byzantines that preserved all the
Latin and Greek classics from antiquity, did the first critical editions
(that we still agree with mostly), and is the source for the ancient classics being restored to us in the west. Well, as we are discovering (partly because we have not studied Byzantium like we should have until recently), the Byzantines were pretty good "anthropologists" who, maybe because they were Christian, did NOT try to equate German gods to Roman gods and did a better job at preserving the original names and terms while working out alphabets (like the Russian) for some of these oral-only cultures. Plus, they did not have the aggressive crusading spirit that the Roman Catholics had to convert, and thus, maintained trade relations and military alliances with tribes that were left alone to be pagan. They even observed the Sami while documenting the Amber trade.
Vata Ksatriya god and lower rank
Okay, looks like some time will be spent with exclusively Vedic materials. In no
way is Vata the sovereign god in the Rgveda.
To anticipate what will come with quotes later, there are some major large frame
structuring principles in the Vedic pantheon. These put some order into the
Vedic house even before you look at individual gods.
1. The first is the division of the world into celestial, atmospheric, and
terrestrial. Second, overlaid upon this scheme is the caste system. Sovereign
and priests correspond to celestial, ksatriyas correspond to atmospheric, and
vaisyas to terrestrial. The gods of these regions are similarly ranked. Vata,
being atmospheric is a lower caste and rank than the celestial gods. And the
Vedas say the reason the devas (mostly the ksatriya gods of the intermediate
atmospheric level) are called "devas" is because they are sons of Dyaus (in fact,
in the Sanskrit, this is explicit in the inflected case where it is a genitive
3. Rta. The celestial sovereign gods are said to be the possessors of the world
frame but transcendent of it. They are its framers and creators but are not
dependent on it. In connection with this, they are also said to be immortal by
nature and indestructible by nature in contrast to the devas. The devas are part
of rta. You might say they are functional circuits within rta. Rta defines who
and what they are. They are also dependent upon rta to remain immortal. The
circulation of soma through the rta network is the basis for the devas, so to
speak, to be able to keep their batteries charged. In some places, due to this
fact, the devas are referred to as the mortal gods who depend upon periodic
re-energizing to not wane and die. The devas can be destroyed in contrast to the
sovereign celestial gods. And it is even suggested (this point is exploited in
later Hinduism and Buddhism) the devas are temporary gods who were once men
but have been appointed
to their current task.
4. Day and night. There is a vertical divide between the day and night side of
the celestial sphere, the atmospheric sphere, and the terrestrial sphere. The
corresponding couplets of these spheres are the sovereign Mithra-Varuna for the
celestial sphere, ksatriya Indra-Vayu for the atmospheric sphere, and the vaisya
Asvins for the terrestrial sphere. Generally, the day side corresponds to law,
the night side to magic.
The day side corresponds to what is public and open. The night side to secrets
and what is private.
So, before even getting into individual gods, there are clear structuring
principles in the Vedas where, even if their personality may be obscure, each
god is clearly pigeon-holed in terms of rank and status. Vata-Vayu is a second
rank ksatriya god on the night side, dependent upon drinking soma to maintain
immortality and not one of the everlasting sovereign gods.
When I return, I will sketch out these structuring principles with quotes before
even considering individual gods. Next, I might go into the Vedic rituals for
brahmans, for ksatriyas, and for vaisyas. They also reinforce the divine caste
system described above.
Re: Vaju/Vata = Odin???
Two new books recommendations,
Laurie Patton. Bring the Gods to Mind: Mantra and Ritual in Early Indian Sacrifice. Univ of California Press 2005.
Jarich Oosten. The War of the Gods: The Social Code in Indo-European Mythology. Routledge 1985.
This last title has an interesting twist. Typically, the father of the gods is not their ruler. The father (and mother) are more like the elderly and wise parents that "parent" their unruly family and children even though grown up (note extended family this relation would be stronger) while one of the sons is the ruler. Parents have authority and ruler has power. If his arguments hold, it complicates things. It seems to fit Dyaus (and his incarnation in the Mahabharata, Bhisma).
Vedas a "mess"? /was Vaju/Vata = Odin???
I thought I'd address the claim that the Vedas are a mess first:
The perception that the Vedas are a \93mess\94 is incorrect. Perhaps, part of the basis for this misperception is due to two prejudices of the early western scholars and translators of the Vedas operating in their handling and perceptions of the Vedas.
The first prejudice could be called \93the protestant prejudice\94. Many of these early scholars, if not devoted and practicing Protestant Christians, were cultural Protestants (especially in the case of the Germans). This prejudice was a bias against ritual, ritualistic religion, and hence, ritual texts with a resulting blindness to ritual and ritual texts as an organizing framework and interpretative key to Vedic materials.
It is widely noted, now, that this bias caused all sorts of methodological and interpretative problems in dealing with _all_ ancient religions. For example, it led some scholars to believe that the Romans were not very religious because they did not believe in the imported Greek mythology that some Romans superimposed upon Roman religion. Pliny, for example, was read this way when he said he didn\92t believe the myths while he served as pontifex maximus. This is now seen as a radical mistake. It was the rites and rituals that were the religious gravity of Rome and not an imported Greek lore about the gods. Today, scholars generally distinguish between orthodox (correct belief in correct dogma) religions where a normative revelation (a one true story with one true interpretation, and thus, not \93lore\94) of revealed dogma (the true interpretation of the story given in revelation) and orthopraxic (correct practice) religions where a normative body of inherited practices, folk customs, and rituals is what must preserved and passed on as the betrothed tradition handed down is the defining principle of a religion. Almost all, if not all, ancient religions were predominantly orthopraxic.
One classic example of distortion worked by the \93protestant prejudice\94 is found in early Zoroastrian studies. The primary source document in ancient Avestan texts is the Yasna (cognate to the Vedic yajna or sacrifice). The Yasna is the primary liturgical text or ritual manual (actually, the actual service) of Zoroastrian worship. The Yasna is what is done.
Early scholars identified the Gathas embedded within the yasna, and ignoring their ritual context, tore the Gathas out to study them separately in the putative attempt to \93reconstruct\94 the \93pure faith\94 of Zarathustra with no ritual. Some westernized Zoroastrians bought into this treatment of the Gathas and to this day there is a raging controversy within the Zoroastrian community between the reformist \93Gatha-only\94 advocates and the traditionalist Zoroastrians. Meanwhile, western scholarship, recognizing the orthopraxic nature of ancient Zoroastrianism has re-inserted the Gathas back into their intended liturgical context in the Yasna and has found this helps immensely in solving interpretative puzzles the earlier approach could not solve. To make sense of much of the Zoroastrian material, you have to see it ritually enacted over the course of the year as it follows the religious calendar. Like elements of a drama that only make sense and come alive when performed, scholars now study this performance as the real \93text\94. The Zoroastrian priest, Jamsheed Choksy has a book, Purity and Danger: Triumph over Evil, in which he documents how the ritual illuminates the mythic lore. The Zoroastrian priest, Firose Kotwal (along with the University of Colorado??), has been cooperating with academics in having the Zoroastrian liturgy video-taped in order to study the living \93text\94 or which the mythic stories and ritual texts are only fragmented elements like script and stage-directions.
Similarly, early scholars tore the mantra (so-called, \93hymns\94) samhitas (collections of mantras) from the rest of the Vedic texts. Usually, what is translated is just the samhita portion containing the mantras which are then dubbed as \93Vedic hymns\94 as if they are stand alone texts. Subsequent scholarship has been correcting this distortion. This is part of what Fritz Staal, B.K. Smith, Laurie Patton, and Williard Johnson have been doing in Vedic studies amongst others (I have previously provided the biblio on their work). Once again, it is in the actual performance of Vedic ritual that the drama of Vedic myth comes alive as a living drama, and parts not understood otherwise, fall into place and make sense.
Before continuing on about the organization and coherence of the Vedic materials, I need to address the second prejudice that early scholars had. This second prejudice was sort of a western imperialistic-colonial ethnocentricism and/or a missionary/Christian legacy (both favoring the superiority of the West) in a Darwinian disquise called the \93evolution of religion theory\94. On this model, primitive humans, through psychological projection onto natural phenomena, would superstitiously \93personify\94 such phenomena. Such projected personifications were then seen as proceeding from more primitive evolutionary stages to more highly developed evolutionary stages of religion. Of course, monotheism was the highest evolutionary stage. On the initial model, the so-called lowest evolutionary stage of religion was animism. The next primitive but next stage in the evolutionary development of religion towards monotheism was polytheism (where the gods are nothing but personified natural phenomena). Tyler\92s anthropological studies threw a wrench into this model as it stood when he discovered quite primitive tribes that were monotheistic. But it was incorporated into this scheme while unconsciously being shaped by a Christian viewpoint. Monotheism was still the mature and developed form of religion. Now, the primitive religion was a \93pure\94 monotheism. Then, with the Christian myth of the fall shaping the scheme unconsciously, there was a \93fall\94 into primitive animism. Then came the next evolutionary step of polytheism. Next came henotheism (polytheism with a head god and heading to monotheism). Finally, leaving behind the superstitions and projections of personified nature phenomena, the final evolutionary stage of religion came in the form of monotheism. For some, there was even a fine-tuning in this view by having an evolutionary development within monotheism from a less advanced monotheism (like Catholicism) to a more advanced and mature form of monotheism as a pure ethical faith (like 19th century Protestant Liberalism). Later, further controversy emerged for this scheme even as new research was drawing the whole thing into question. On the one hand, you had scientific materialists argue that the highest evolutionary phase in religion was not monotheism but the abolition of all religious superstition and the emergence of a mature and adult secular atheism. On the other hand, some scholars operating within this scheme began to get personally interested and involved in eastern religions and theosophy. They posited pantheism as the highest evolutionary phase of religion. Max Mueller is one such example of this late development before the whole scheme collapsed.
Given this evolutionary model, much of the early interpretative work in Vedic studies was how to pigeon-hole Vedic materials within this evolutionary scheme. The result was the Vedic materials were never really understood on their on merits before the project to reconstruct their alleged \93evolution\94 was underway. Rydberg was pointing at the confusion that this double-agenda project causes when he distinguishes between the study of mythology vs the study of the origins of mythology.
As actually delivered to us as a concrete text, the Vedas are not a mess but a well-organized and systematically inter-related whole. There are older and newer strata but they are found across the board in all the parts of a Veda whether the mantras in the samhita, the brahmanas, aranyakas, or upanisads. And contrary to the picture painted based on the earlier model, namely that the impression left that there is a general evolution away from the ritual portions of the Vedas, there are constant references to ritual material and ritual material found throughout all sections of the Veda: samhita, brahmana, aranyaka, and upanisad.
But it is in the performance or enactment of the \93psycho-spiritual drama\94 of Vedic ritual that the pieces come together and the myth\92s alluded to (but not told) are concretely acted out as a living drama. In this light, the organization of the texts come to light also. First, there is the liturgical year. Second, there is caste (some rituals are caste specific as are some Vedic gods). But in terms of the texts themselves, the mantras of the Rgveda are recited publically and aloud to the gods by the Adhvarya priest. Accompanying the Adhvarya priest (and also responsible for the Rgveda mantras correct performance, so he monitors the Adhvarya) is the Hotri priest who chants quietly and privately mantras to magically maintain the effective Brahman power of both the Advarya\92s public mantras and his ritual actions. But, sort of like the 8 tones in the liturgy of the Orthodox Church, each particular ritual occasion calls for the correct meter and melody by which the publically chanted mantras are set. The correct intonation, meter and melody of the mantras from the Rgveda and sung aloud by the Advarya is established by the Udgitha priest (who is sort of the choirmaster of the celebrants). These canonical intonations, meters, and melodies are the samas. In addition, sometimes when the \93samas choir\94 is singing a mantra instead of the Advarya and other times when the Advarya priest is not chanting out loud, he chants quietly and under his breathe mantras to maintain meditative concentration and his own \93tapas\94 in order to maintain the effectiveness and Brahman power of his own ritual actions (besides those chanted by the Hotri). These quietly chanted mantras are yajus. The public mantras sung aloud to the gods are the mantras in the Rgveda samhita. The public meter, intonation, and melody to which these mantras are recited as called for by the particular ritual occasion are the mantra melodies of the Samaveda samhita. The silent mantras to magically maintain ritual effectiveness, meditative concentration, tapas, and Brahman power are the mantras of the Yajurveda samhita. Collectively, the brahmanas, aranyakas, and upanisads are the \93how to\94 ritual manuals for all foreseen ritual situations and how to improvise in accordance with the meaning and general principles of the ritual for unforeseen ritual situations. Brahmanas are the step by step ritual texts and rubrics themselves with advice on variations and what to do if a mistake is made. Aranyakas and upanisads teach broad principles of the meaning of the rituals and lore in order to maintain tapas, meditative concentration, and ritual effectiveness or Brahman power not covered in the brahmanas. They also touch upon the internal tapas and meditative themes by which the celebrants maintain the magical potency and effectiveness of the brahma power of the mantras and ritual actions.
Re: Vedas a "mess"? /was Vaju/Vata = Odin???
Polyvalence won't work either and I think you are still operating on the picture created by the early translators. This is almost certain if you are relying on English translations. The only new complete English translation is that of Joel Brereton and Stephanie W. Jamison through Oxford University Press. The Upanisads dated as contemporary with Vedas are Aitareya and Kausitaki belonging to the Rgveda, the Chandogya and Kena belonging to the Samaveda and the Taittiriya and Brihadaranyaka belonging to the Yajurveda. All are before 500 BCE. The Isa is a tricky one. It has been dated as a late Upanisad (+/- 300 to 200 BCE) but it is actually a part of the mantra samhita of the Yajurveda (+500 BCE).
Re: Vaju/Vata = Odin???
BTW, Vayu is the intermediate combat realm that only exists in the getik phase of admixture of good and evil in combat in the age of mixture. Zarathustra condemned Vayu as a demon only for him to later be split into the good Vay and the Bad Vay (Middle Persian). Those in Zoroastrian studies that look at the German material speculate Odin-Loki were originally one figure (despite the argument that only one source, probably a Christian editor, claims they were blood brothers to spoil things) split into two, essentially, the good Odin and the bad Odin.
They reinforce their argument, partly on the genetic geography of IE populations begun by Cavalli-Sforza, Menozi, and Piazza that suggests the Germans were in genetic proximity with, and thus, cultural proximity with Iranians in The History and Geography of the Human Genes. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691087504 where and when the good Vayu was split from the bad Vayu in late western Zoroastrianism.
Re: Vaju/Vata = Odin???
PS. Ashavans do a customary prayerful-salute-blessing to each other. It is sort of the Zoroastrian equivalent of the Hindu salutation. So, given the language, it is clear that Ahura Mazda prayerfully-salutes-blesses not only his own fravashi (archetypal guardian self) but also Mithra, Yima, and Zarathustra. So, on the clutching at straws logic for Vayu to be supreme in Zoroastrianism, Zarathustra himself is the supreme god superior to Ahura Mazda! Ashavans are all beings who promote Asha and prayerfully salute each other in their solidarity against the drug. Even plants, animals, minerals-metals-crystals-air (Vayu-Vay), earth (Zam presided over by Spenta Armaiti), fire (Atar), and water are similarly "prayed" (actually, prayerfully saluted and blessed) to. Anyway, besides an exhaustive survey of all mention of Vayu-Vata-Rudra in the Vedas (showing his nonsovereign status since he is a second rank ksatriya war god of the nightside of magic), I'll do the same with the Zoroastrian texts.
Re: Vaju/Vata = Odin???
PSS. To follow up again, if Mary Settegast's argument holds, then the Zoroastrian material may be the primary ancestral reference point in the Indo-European traditions out of which Germanic traditions came under Indo-Iranian formative influence. This would be why the battle is apparently a one time event rather than an eternal order or cyclical such as is suggested in Indic materials. See, When Zarathustra Spoke: The Reformation of Neolithic Culture and Religion (Bibliotheca Iranica: Zoroastrian Studies), 2005.
Beyond that, the Iranian Sarmatians served alongside Germans in the Roman legions. They may have also shaped Celto-Germanic traditions, especially, in re-shaping IE materials on Arthur and the graal (maretan i artha, Yima, Yima's Serving Cup/Cauldron, and Yima's?Yama's Round of knightly character types which is the Iranian origin of the northern Central Asian Buddhist Wheel of Life held by Yama and differs from the India and southern Asia Buddhist Wheel of Life, see Snellgrove, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. 2 volumes.) if the arguments of C. Scott Littleton (editor of the New Comparative Mythology: An Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dumezil, 1982) hold up under review and evaluation. See From Scythia to Camelot: A Reassessessment of the Legends of King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table, and the Holy Grail. (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, Volume 1795), 2000.
Tyr as Supreme god in Crimean/Ostrogoth Baptismal Abjuration
To secure the borders of the Byzantine empire against Huns in the late 5th
century, the Byzantines created an alliance with the Crimean Goths. They are
Ostrogoth survivors of the former Ostrogoth empire that extended from the Crimea
into southern Russia. This Ostrogoth empire was destroyed in 370 CE by the Huns.
The Ostrogoths retreated to the Crimean mountains where they established a new
capital city of Doros at Mankup-Kale east of Cherson. They had been Eastern
Orthodox Christians since the 4th century (100 years) at the time their western
branch converted to Arian Christianity. Anyway, their conversion abjuration
formula for baptism into the Eastern Orthodox Church abjures Tyr, All-Father
ruler of the demons, Odin, sorcerer of the demons and ruler of the dead in hell,
and Thor, war-leader of the demons as a baptismal tradition. Sources when I find
find them after the Vedic and Avestan project.
Baptismal Abjurations/Re: Re: Tyr as Supreme god in Crimean/Ostrogoth Baptismal Abjuration
It looks likely there are more such abjuration formulas that have NOT been researched. They also complicate the picture, especially for the mono-odinists. They have been cataloged but not commented on. So this would be totally new. The date for the Ostrogoth would be in the mid- to late- 300s C.E., probably within 40 years of Nicea I (325 CE). But there are more, such as the Swedes and Russians that convert with Vladimir of Kiev. There, the abjuration is against Thor-Perun. Then in the late 800 or early 900s CE a Varangian Guard, Freygeirr, abjures Freyr, king of the demons of false peace and false marital bonds, king of the host of war demons and false god of the world, his father and queen sister-wife, and Freyr's warchief, the demon of death and rage in war (Odin?) and his war comrade (Thor or Tyr?).
Vedic and Avestan Documentation Introduction
I have pondered how to proceed and came up with this plan. First, I will list all references to Vayu-Vata in the Rgveda samhita. Second, I will then do the same for the Brahmanas of the Rgveda. Then the Aranyakas and Upanisads. This will be with very minimal comment or interpretation. Next, I will either do the same for the Avestan materials or I will investigate the polynominalism of the Veda. If the later course, I suspect we will all find, or most of us, that the polynominalism is not rampant and mostly pertains to 2 or three figures in the Veda, namely, Indra, Agni, and probably, Soma. And in many cases, some names given to gods are actually descriptive of some act that we know they performed. for example, Indra (as the divine warrior) and Trita Apta (as the human warrior) both get the nickname Vrtrahan (killer of Vrtra). In either case, I will document both the Avestan materials and the polynominalism. After eliminating Vayu-Vata as a viable candidate as the sovereign god in Vedic and Avestan materials, we will then turn to the likely candidates.
Note: the Avestan materials I will deal with will be the ones connected with the Yasna. I have yet to decide what to do with the Vendidad. I may just go ahead and include it with some cautionary reflections.
PS Re: Baptismal Abjurations/Re: Re: Tyr as Supreme god in Crimean/Ostrogoth Baptismal Abjuration
Another thing I'll have to look for, come to think of it, is an article in IE studies that argues the since the Dagda is the Celtic all-father while his son Nuada is king (who is replaced by Lug, and then reinstated), and this might parallel the relation of Dyaus (as a Vasu-order god with both asuras and devas as offspring but kin in nature to the asuras, and thus, one of them, in contrast to the mortal devas) to King Varuna, then the further parallel in Germanic lore would be Freyr as the Vanir all-father. Just like European nobility, the Vanir and Aesir could have had an on-going debate as to who was in charge. I'll have to re-read that article.
Re: Vaju/Vata = Odin, The Evidence and Argument
Generally, the broad problem with VR's argument below is he conflates two
distinct realms. The Rgveda's cosmology has three realms which just about every
secondary academic source notes. They are celestial, atmospheric, and
terrestrial. We also know which gods are celestial, which gods are atmospheric,
and which are terrestrial. Also, corresponding to the scheme is the social
castes. Celestial gods correspond to the brahman caste, atmospheric to the
ksatriya caste and vaisya caste to the terrestrial. Only two gods are found in
all three spheres: Agni and Visnu.
The particular point. Your footnote on Polome. I've mentioned this before and
offered citation on it I believe. The footnote reads "compelling" argument. I
know this Polome piece is popular in the asatru community so a few things aboaut
academic standards and decorum need to be addressed. First, if you are quoting a
source, you can just cite it. But if you are citing someone's argument and say
it is compelling, you need to cite the whole conversation in academia about it
or it looks like the author is pushing an agenda and is not exercising scholarly
objectivity and even handling of the evidence. Academic articles do not occur in
a vacuum. To get published, they are peer-reviewed. After they are published,
there is a whole discussion, critique, review, and evaluation of their arguments
and research. To the academic eye, your "compelling" word in the footnote raises
the question, compelling to whom? If it is you the author, well that does not
would it if I was the offer). An argument is compelling only if it is
compelling to the academic community that subsequently discusses it and
evaluates it. And as a matter of fact, Polome's argument was generally found to
be weak. Various parts of it were found mistaken. He made an error in IE roots.
Some evidence was ignored. These further articles, as part of the conversation,
need to be included in that footnote which should then have the qualification
that while Polome made the argument it has not been generally accepted in the
academic commuinity. In fact, Polome later disavowed it and backed away from it.
He changed his mind. That too needs to be documented and noted in that footnote.
Then you've covered the entire conversation. BTW, the later position was that of
Dumezil's. During the Migration Period, the Germanic traditions had a collapse
of priestly-sovereign function and war-leader functions (thus, unlike the Celts,
no "Druid class" in
Germanic religion), the corresponding changes in the pantheon was that Odin
assimilated the old sovereign god's powers as Odin rose to the head of the
pantheon. The similarites reflect this event in the Migratory Period and not in
the original IE time. When CX quoted Dumezil earlier, she failed to also note
that in that discussion Dumezil never says that Odin and Varuna were originally
the same god, on the contrary, he says Odin later absorbed the sovereign god.
Anyway, its bad academic form to say in a footnote that some one made a
compelling argument without showing that they overall did convince the academic
community and document the subsequent discussion.
Re: Vaju/Vata = Odin, The Evidence and Argument
This will be dealt with longer and earlier but quoting bad translations or doctored translations is like using the King James to discuss the original Greek text.
Anyway, your quote of Dumezil fails to mention his account of Odin absorbing the traits of Varuna at a late period and his evidence for that. For someone, anyone, who knows the professional literature, this looks like prooftexting.
One general comment about the Vedic quotes. They are all from book 10 which is a late book where there is already emerging the competing cults of Visnu and Siva-Rudra-Vayu.
So, one must be careful that the quotes don't reflect developing trends that will become Hinduism and do not reflect old material.
As far as Vayu being father, it is not father of the gods (gods is an English blanket term), but in the Sanskrit father of the devas and Maruts. It says nothing about all the gods. Second, there are also passages where Vayu is offspring of the devas as his parents. Devas have an interdependency or mutual energy exchange or mutual feeding system that is part of the "circulation" of rta by which they fulfill their "lordship upholding rta" (i.e. the actual Sanskrit is rtavan meaning an upholder of rta just as a Zoroastrian is ashavan). So, they are all parents and offspring of each other in this mutual feeding energy exchange system. The energy, so to speak, is Agni and Soma. And they can lose this energy as we will see in the case of Indra. Indra slayed Vrtra as he was required to do. Nevertheless, since Indra is a ksatriya deva and Vrtra was a brahman, Indra must pay for the sin of a ksatriya killing a brahman and loses his divine powers. This material also shows up in the Avestan materials. Indra, so to speak, as an isolated energy circuit, is unplugged from rta and loses all power until expiation is made that allows him to re-charge, so to speak.
This last is in the Rgveda as one of its central myths. It is analyzed and discussed at length in Dumezil's The Desting of the King and several others, such as Lincoln in both his books.
As far as Vayu being the "spirit" of the gods. Again, this is interjecting a Jewish motif into the process of translating a Sanskrit passage. Vayu is the breathe of the devas and the source of that breathe of the devas is Vayu is the exhalation of Varuna (RG VII, 87, 2). As the collective breathe of the devas is not a nominative subject, grammatically, but a genitive one, indicating, a deva dependent on the devas' inhalation and exhalation. Vayu is also son of Dyaus, given dyauvah putre.
As far as "king", the exact Sanskrit is Vayu is the rtapati of THIS realm, the demonstrative "this" specifying that he is the lord of his own dominion, the winds.
As first born and germ, so is Vac, the divine Word, that is uttered at the time of creation by Vac (that mantra also says since utterance uses breathe, Vac is the birth of breathe and mantra).
This is why we're going back to the Sanskrit. It has distinctions and connotations English ignores.
Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
I\92m still working on the Rgveda materials but thought I would quickly offer this.
Several scholars (Chanley, 1970; Dumezil, 1952, 1959, 1968, 1971 and etc.; Schlesinger 1954; Schutte 1933; and de Vries 1964) have researched, discussed, evaluated, and concluded that the evidence indicates that there were two kinds of kingship in PIE and in early IE cultures, including Germanic cultures. Since the titles of one kind of kingship are found attached to Tyr, they take this as a bit of evidence he was once a king of the gods in one sense of kingship.
Before looking at gods, we look at the two kinds of kingship in IE cultures. By the way, there is a parallel in American Indian cultures between chiefs of the council and war-chiefs. In peacetime, the chiefs of the council rule. In war, the war-chief leads (but not absolutely).
The first was a sacred kingship. This kingship was more like a person who is the head of the family (divine or human) who ruled by their wisdom, counsel, and in the Thing (assembly of the people) was lawspeaker, but they did not rule by force of power. As these authorities discuss, Dyaus and Varuna have this kind of kingship in the Rgveda as does their counterparts in the Celtic lore, namely, the Dagda Eoch Ollathair and Nuada.
The second kind of kingship is the war chief who rules by military power and backed by his retinue (warriors). As these authorities note, Indra has this kind of kingship in the Rgveda.
Now to the Germanic evidence: as some of these scholars note two old sovereignty titles are attached to Tyr suggesting, as bits of evidence, that he was once king of the gods in the first sense of kingship. These terms are kunja and thjodann.
Lets summarize the linguistic analysis of the above authorities on kingship terminology in Germanic cultures. Germanic languages have two groups of terms for kingship that correspond to the two kinds of kingship outlined above.
First Kind of Kingship
\93Kunja\94 is Old German for \93kin, with the meaning of \93leader of divine kin\94 or head of the family (Chanley 1970 21; de Vries 1964 120; Schutte 1933 I 203). It is a kingship term that corresponds to the first kind of kingship outlined above. There is another closely associated Germanic kingship term that also corresponds to the first kind of kingship. The Gothic term is thiudans. It is cognate to the Old English theoden and the Old Norse thjodann. These terms are derivative terms from the fact that this kind of kingship rules as wise-sayer, counsel, and lawspeaker in the Thing (assembly) of the people. Thus, these terms for king derive from the Gothic word thiuda (the people) and is cognate to the Old Irish tuath and German teutonen.
Second Kind of Kingship
By contrast, another set of Germanic kingship terms correspond to the second kind of kingship where the king is war-chief and leader in war and leader of the army. Thus, we find the Old German thruhtin, the Old Norse drottin, and the Gothic drauhtinassu (all having the meaning of \93military service leader\94, besides de Vries above, see also Schlesinger 1954 130). The other German kingship term closely associated with these terms and corresponding to the second kind of kingship is the Old German herizoga and Old English heretoga (which both mean \93leader of the army\94 \96 ibid.).
So, this evidence suggests Tyr was king in the first sense and Odin was king in the second sense is the argument in a nutshell.
Chanley, W.A. (1970) The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England
Dumezil G. (1952) Les dieux des Indo-Europeans
(1959) Les dieux des Germains.
(1968) Myth et epopee 1.
(1971) Mythe et epopee2.
[see also his Destiny of the King and Mitra and Varuna, both deal with IE concepts of sovereignty]
Hoffler, O. (1954) Das Sakralcharakter des germanischen Konigstum. T. Mayer ed. Das Konigstum seine gestilichen und rechtlichen Grundlagen.
Schlesinger, W (1954) uber Germanisches Heerkonigstum. T. Mayer ed. Das Konigstum seine gestilichen und rechtlichen Grundlagen.
Schutte, G (1933) Our Forefathers (I, II).
Vries, J. de. (1964) Etymologisch Woordenboek.
Poetic Edda English Critical Edition/Interlinear Translation
Are any of you using the critical English translation of the Poetic Edda with the English side by side the original? Dronke, Ursula. Poetic Edda. 2 vols. Oxford University Press, 2001.
Re: Fw: Voluspa 42: Gagl-wood or Galg-wood?
Part of the problem is lack of context. As established in modern linguistics (it is demonstrable), the meaning is not "in the words". Words and sentences function
largely as mental cues that activate large chunks of contextual background knowledge
of a culture by which to parse a sentence. Since we don't have that context, it has
to be replaced by our academic hypotheses, as large higher-level theories or models,
about the nature of that context in order to parse a word or sentence. Translations
of such texts are judged on the basis of (1) how well to they cohere with the rest of the
text and what we know about related texts, and (2) what we think we know about
the cultural context on the best given model or models. (2) includes theories of
reconstructive linguistics too besides theories about a religious culture, etc.
Re: Re: Baldur, Hodur, and Arthurian Mythos
Check out Ringbom. He has a study on the Graal Cycle in its larger IE (and not just Celtic) context that includes Germanic and Persian lore (the Alans in Europe were an Iranian people as were the Sarmatians who settled in England before the Anglo-Saxon invasion and in Brittany with the Alans) -- and Central Asian Buddhist lore where Yima's round of character-types becomes a unique version of Yama's Wheel of Life as a depiction of character-types in Central Asian Buddhism not found elsewhere and Arthur's Round Table and Knights as character-types. The Yima legend, btw, where fallen Yima becomes the first to die in the world-war between good and evil and must build a postmortem underworld/shelter during the war's winter is Maretan Arta (death of order, arta is an older form of asha. Arta is the Iranian cognate to the Vedic rta).
Re: Fw: Voluspa 42: Gagl-wood or Galg-wood?
Minimally, like they do in New Testament or with the Gathas, I would like to see all variant texts in the original language and variant translations.
Maximally, all variant texts in original language and variant translations with a brief argument and/or statement of what the case is for a variant text to be preferred (when dealing with variations between manuscripts of the same text) and the same for translations.
But there are larger concerns as well. Let me offer a brief bibliography of issues in linguistics and translation.
Hirsch, E.D. Cultural Literacy. chapter 2 (discusses how we draw on general
cultural knowledge to comprehend a sentence as part of his larger argument that literacy is not just "linguistic" but depends on knowledge of a culture).
Johnson and Lakoff. Metaphors We Live By.
Turner, Mark. The Literary Mind: The Origins of Thought and Language.
These three books are very readable. There are more technical ones. One that is interesting, in light of Indo-European studies, is Eva Sweetser's From Etymology to Pragmatics: Metaphorical and Cultural Aspects of Semantic Structure. It is interesting
in that she examines how the evolution of IE languages and their structure is based upon basic conceptual metaphors that effect things like tense structure, modals, and so on.
In light of Johnsons book on Poetry and Speculation in the Rgveda, where the rishis are creating those metaphors, her argument shows indirectly how Vedic metaphors created by rishis still fundamentally shape our thought and language.
Re: Fw: Voluspa 42: Gagl-wood or Galg-wood?
Another issue that effects the Eddaic literature in particular is it is often posed as sort of a test by its use of what could be called "veiled allusion" -- as if the reader is being tested in terms of his or her "lore literacy". That compounds our difficulty. It means that in order to be understood, the poems are positively testing the thoroughness of the reader's cultural, background, or contextual knowledge of the lore that is what is required to "decipher" their "veiled allusion" which is exactly the knowledge we almost totally lack.
Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
Why don't you refer to the sources I provided? After a while, even in academia, if something has been established well-enough and long-enough, it serves as common (albeit, professional) knowledge and does not need citation. And if you read the below carefullu, the derivation of the first kind of kingship is given from teu with sources older than Dumezil.
Its a place name. In terms of IE roots of Ullr/Ulllin, meaning "spendor", there are a number of parallel stories that when placed side by side (the same method Rydberg uses) have similar characters in similar roles in a similar story with basically the same plot. There are two such stories in Germanic lore, perhaps three, if we count in Vili and Ve ruling in Odin's stead and married to his wife. But the Rik stories are also parallel. Basically, The Indo-Iranian figure behind Ullr/Ullin is Vivasvant (Vedic) or Vivahvant (Zoroastrian). Closely tied to this figure is Agni, Surya-Visnu, and Yama/Yima/Gayo-maretan. Basically, a sacred king remains such as long as they remain virtuous. They possess a divine and solar potency that is a cross between an energy of charmed existence and enhanced abilities. This is the "energy" of Vivasvant/Agni called Xvarnah or Kharwareh. It is a divine grace bestowed on devic demi-god kings and human kings. In otherwords, their status as sovereign is borrowed or on loan to them. The first human and first king was Yama/Yima, who after he sinned, lost his Xvarnah (it returned to Mithra, the rightful possessor of it along with Varuna, the Asura, or Ahura Mazda but other sources say Vivasvant and others Agni). He then became the first mortal (brought on mortal life which is literally what gaya "life" and maretan "mortal" means), created the underworld vara where he ruled the dead until the end of the final battle after the world-destroying winter. Yama/Yima (Tuisto) was sacrificed by his twin Manu (Mannus), and in the process, his departed divine glory creates the three castes (or three Germanic tribes). Now, warrior demi-gods of the deva class can win or lose their xvarnah. The warrior god Indra was filled with xvarnah when he slayed Vrtra but he later sinned and lost it in three portions, some went to the Brahmin's, some to the Ksatriyas, and some to the Vaisyas. He is then stripped of his office as king of the devas and has to go to the forest to practice austerities to regain the divine splendor/grace/effulgent glory. Agni can no longer keep Indra immortal nor of divine status. There is a similar incident in the devas stealing the ambrotas/soma by which they maintain their immortality. The theft was a sin and xvarnah was lost. Agni could no longer keep them immortal. Another figure in Indian lore, Yayati in the Mahabharata, loses it, falls from heaven and it goes to the three castes. The stories of Tuisto and Mannus and the three tribes as well as that of Heimdall as Rik has been compared to this Indian and Persian set of stories. Besides the Avesta material, this cycle of legends is also found in the Shahnama, where in his glory when filled with his xvarr/farr, Jimshid (the Avestan Yima) captures the demonic spirit of fury (Sanskrit, isma-deva, Avestan, aeshma-daeva -- the biblical Asmodeus), namely, the evil div (devil or daeva) Vay as an enslaved power to do Jimshid's bidding as well as be Jimshid's means of transportation or his ride and beast of burden (described as a flying discus or airhorse). Meanwhile, while the immortal human Jimshid is doing this, his divine and celestial counterpart, Mithra (or Mihr) has also further enslaved the evil Vayu-Vay also known as aka mana (evil mind, the second in command after Angra Mainyu or Ahriman) inside the material creation from which he can never escape, but rather, the processes of the good creation reaching its culmination and restoration at Frashkart eats, digests and dissolves the evil Vay (and the demonic host) into oblivion using their remains has fertilizer for new good creation when all divs (daevas) will perish in the fires after the last battle.
I don't know where, off hand, but I heard someone give a conference presentation arguing Odr = Njord and no connection to Ullr/Ullin.
The extended argument at the conference was on Nat's husbands being the same person. So, NagelFore, Annar, and Delling are the same. The argument went on to suggest that Fjorgyn was also another name for the husband of Nat. Additionally, it was argued their eldest son Aud = Unn = Njord (all the same personage). The two questions left open at the end of the analysis was who was Jord besides being Nat's and Annar's daughter (and earth)? Freyja or someone else?
BTW, the same session had a paper arguing that the mother goddess Night, in Indo-European traditions, is described as a Cow (source of life). Aditi, for example, is called cow and as such, the mother of gods and men. The suggestion was that Nat might reasonably be identified with Audhumla (the mother of life cow).
Correction, my notes from that session are just that odr and odin are not the same with no connection to UYllr/Ullin. Njord was not mentioned on that specific point.
Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
Oh this is rich! We have here a garbled mishandling of sources, misattribution, confused attribution, confusion of sources, and a response to such a mismanaged handling of sources taken out of context. And we are just talking about a series of email messages! I hope this is not how CX treats lore!
Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
What Puhvel and Dumezil are discussing without attribution because it is treated as professional common knowledge I provided some of the sources for in my original post.
So, I was saying refer to the sources I gave in order to see what Puhvel and Dumezil are presupposing as "known" to their readers.
Some are in English and are not just about linguistics.
Adyan and List/Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
Aydan and list,
This thread started with an summarized argument with sources. The reply to
it was you, not responding to what the original post stated nor a question
about the sources provided. Instead, you wanted something else instead.
You asked a question about Puhvel and where did he get his information.
I replied that if its common knowledge the argument and sources don't have
to be rehearsed all over again. I also said that the sources they were relying
on were given, for those who did not know, in the original post to this thread.
CX then responded to your reply to me without even knowing who said what
of that there were sources in the original post. The original sources are
garbled enough to have to waste time on straightening out the patterns
of miscommunication and wrong attribution of who said what when on an
email list in addition!
Plus, with the above as one single example (I could go through the archives
and make my case but why don't you go back and reflect if you don't
believe what I am now saying), the pattern of interaction with you is when
I do provide an argument, you want something instead. You want sources.
When I provide sources, you whine they are too expensive to obtain, or
too inaccessible, or you can't read it if its not in English, and you want
something instead. You just want the argument. When I give both the
summary argument and the sources, once again, you still want something
else, you want to change the discussion, apparently, as to why you can't
find want you are looking for in the sources you have because you don't
have access to the sources provided in the original post. With you,
neither the arguments offered, the research or analysis offered, nor the
sources offered are directly engaged. You always want to talk about
something else, or in effect, how you can find it in the sources you
already have at hand.
Perhaps there is a general wrong-headed presupposition operating here
that the Germanic material is normative, so that the burden of proof for
IE research is "it either matches the Germanic material or the burden of
proof is on others that differences from it are original." For several
methodological reasons, this is nonsense.
First, quantity and multiple attestation: the standard method (contrary
to the facile and popular dismissal that arguments they don't like are
just linguistic -- the method is otherwise, the structural and comparative
analysis of stories illuminates the linguistics) of textual research is
to put similar or variant stories from different IE traditions side by side.
Just as in a criminal investigation, intelligence analysis, or in court
room testimony, if multiple versions of a story agree on a point but
one version is different, the conclusion is that the one that is different
is a distortion or departure (unless there is strong evidence to the
contrary, like verifiable age). Two branches of the IE cultures show
the most departure (and thus, distortion) of all other IE cultures.
These are the Greek and the Germanic. They have undergone the
most modification when we line up their stories with other IE material.
This is one reason why they can not be taken as normative for
the other IE traditions. There are more.
Second, age: the older material trumps younger material all things
being equal. The oldest material is Iranian rock and clay tablet
inscriptions of the Medes and Persians and Armenians. BTW, neither
Odin nor Vayu is even mentioned in these inscriptions. And these are
physically the oldest IE texts we have. Next in age is the Vedic and Avestan
plus Greek descriptions of Indo-Iranian culture. Even if we disregard the hypothesis that these materials reflect mucholder traditions, still, they are still the oldest sources.
Third, statistical agreements: we find statistically that other IE sources agree more with these sources more of the time than the other IE sources agree with each other or
with a particular non Indo-Iranian IE source. This is simple math of the same type as running a computer program to see of the Hebrew Masoretic OT, Septuagint OT, and Dead Sea Scrolls how much agreement there is between these traditions and the direction
of that agreement (i.e., which text is agreed with most). For these reasons, Indo-Iranian materials trump Germanic materials. But there is more.
Fourth, quantity of material: part of the difficulty is deciphering a text is knowing its
context (whether the sentence in a paragraph, a paragraph in a book, or a text in
a religious tradition). There is simply more Indo-Iranian material than there is
Germanic. Since the above considerations weigh in favor of the original IE religion
looking more like Indo-Iranian religion than Germanic religion, obscure passages
and linguistic analysis of Germanic textual remains are done in light of this
older and better attested Indo-Iranian material if one is doing IE research.
Fifth, quality of materials: the unavoidable fact is Germanic material is secondhand material
in the hands of Christians or Roman observers who in other respects can be shown to
not be very good observers and have their own ideological axe to grind (they are all like us Romans, thus German and Roman god analogies which are notoriously questionable with a people they had longer contact with than the Germans, namely the Celts, and the Germans are displaced Trojans, just like Romans, who are trying to shore up a failing empire - there is a whole bibliography on just this point that Rydberg spends much time on also but I don't want to upset you by providing sources you don't already have personal access to Adyan).
We have no original native material from the German heathens themselves. Plus it dates at least a century or two after paganism has disappeared. Of course we have to rely on it but we also know how degraded it is in terms of informational quality. Analogy: we had to rely upon what Christian writers wrote about the second century gnostics in order to say anything about gnosticism until we found the Nag Hammadi and Turfan Oasis libraries. Now, we have the original sources themselves and our picture has not only dramatically changed about the gnostics, but also, of early christianity and christian origins (not even the history of early christianity is how the christians tell it -- the delivered story is an ideological motivated one of apostolic orthodoxy going back to christ that battled heresies -- NOT SO!).
For these five reasons (with all the accumulated evidence), Germanic materials are taken to be of the lowest informational quality and most derivative of all IE materials. It is read as how Germanic tradition "creatively developed" or "departed" or "distorted" its ancestral
tradition. It is like the children's game of telephone. It is the end of the line. Fortunately,
since we have several lines of transmission and we also have earlier phases and older phases of the original transmission, we can trace the progressive introduction of noise vs information, information wholes becoming fragmented into bits and recombined, and
distortions that explains the end product -- Germanic tradition. That is why it is not
normative. We have to use older and multiply attested IE traditions to illuminate
it: not the other way around. I think this is partly what is going on here underneath
CX telling me she is a Odin-Vayu fundamentalist that won't believe any evidence
that is contrary to Odin being the high god of even Vedic religion or Zoroastrian religion
and you, Adyan, not engaging the material offered by me but always wanting something different, argument instead of sources, sources instead of argument, sources you already have, or are not hard to find, or are in English or are not expensive instead of the actual sources that your sources draw from and presuppose.
Instead of this shell game, Adyan, lets see if I can pin you down on two simple
yes or no questions. Is Odin the high god in the Rgveda? Is Odin the high god
in Zoroastrianism? To both, just a plain of simple yes or no.
More broadly, if there is not general agreement that the above, broad, principles
guiding IE research are sound, I'm wasting my time here.
If it turns out that there is no consensus on these fundamentals, I'll post what I have
already completed in terms of the Vedic and Avesta materials, and then, depart.
Re: Adyan and List/Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
First, in terms of your answers to the yes/no questions about Odin, they were reasonable.
Second, in terms of the five principles and guiding facts of IE research, do you think they are reasonable? You did not answer that.
Third, regarding your plaint or complaint about secondary sources vs original sources, I understand better where you are coming from but have some caveats. Each scholarly publication, whether article or book, is a time-slice in a long debate and conversation. The participants, it is presupposed, know the history of that conversation and debate. And thus, references are to current and prior phases of that conversation and debate as well as to the primary sources. Part of the problem is the meaning of those primary sources, in many cases, has to be determined by the outcome of the long debate/conversation about them.
I give two examples:
1. Polome made an early attempt to argue that Odin-Vayu = Varuna. What some seem to not know was he was trying to make the case again of his predecessor, G. Widengren. What some seem to also not know is that Polome retracted his argument for that identification after a subsequent round of debate and discussion scattered across hundreds of journals and conference papers. Knowing that history, his thesis (reviving Widengren's) is not mentioned because it has fallen by the wayside. But, a group not privy to that conversation and debate pick up his time-slice text and take it as definitive for all time almost in a proof-texting fashion you find amongst fundamentalist Christians.
2. You have mentioned reading Puhvel's Comparative Mythology. In the chapter on Vedic
India, much of his discussion is referenced to the primary Vedic texts as original sources.
But it is presupposed that his intended reading audience has read and is familiar with those sources so they do not need to be reproduced. As a coincidence, I was going to reproduce the source he does mention; the Vedas have as an integral part, incorporated into them, a mythological reference, concordance, dictionary, philological and etymological device that elaborates on mythology just eluded to by allusion in the samhitas and the srauta sutra ritual manuals. It is the Nirukta.
I will post next, offering a summary from it, then get into the other portions of the Vedas it is the "reader's guide and reference" to and which is frequently referenced in the secondary literature as part of the primary sources. But first please answer the second question above about the general IE research principles.
PS Re: Adyan and List/Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
PS, To the below, I could also add an analogy. Which email msg on this list is the definitive one? Or is it a time-slice?
Re: Adyan and List/Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
Some people can't tolerate "maybe not".
I live with probabilities and have almost died in terms of probabilities.
As the resident logician within the department, I have to teach a full
semester of deductive formal logic (propositional and predicate), a
full semester of formal inductive logic (statistics), and general logic
(general education deductive and inductive logic).
I also work in the hospitals as a bioethicist (my wife is a Neonatal
Nurse Practitioner). I primarily deal with bio-medical research issues
(scientific misconduct, conflict of interest, cleaning up vs distorting
statistical raw data) but also deal with clinical ethics (probability of
patients to survive or revive, etc. etc.) dealing with families, spouses,
patients, and sadly, (due to my wife's work) viability of pregancies
and births. Life is uncertain.
But beyond that, I was once in intelligence service as an analyst and
field analyst. I had to give life and death advice, potentially costing
people's lives (and in some cases, causing the deaths of some for
a greater end, maybe), in the former capacity and had to do the same
with my own life on the life in the latter case. There were three times
I know for certain I was near being dead when a young man.
I appreciate well the maybes and maybe nots. I tolerate them well.
But I have seen how fundamentalist attitudes kill. And CX, when you
told me that you did not care how much evidence was presented that
Vayu-Odin (and you admitted the correlation both on and offlist) was
_NOT_ the high god of the Vedic materials and in essence Adyan was
a fool on a fool's errand, because against all evidence you would remain
unconvinced and remain firm that despite all available evidence (all maybes)
and you would still hold that Vayu-Odin was the forgotten highgod, THAT
was when I was shocked and felt like leaving the list. I liked you before
you showed your fundamentalist streak. And contrary to Heidi's perceptions,
my "bullying" post-dates your self-identification as dogmatically fundamentalist
on that point. By your own words, you can't tolerate "maybe not" if it means
Odin is not ultimate!
We'll not discuss this rather useless exchange again. Rather, evidence will
be offered and I leave to others to judge your fundamentalist dogmatism (short of
posting your msgs to me to the list, which WX rightly says is bad form).
Re: Re: Adyan and List
Let's talk about academic politics. On the Continent, governments and universities fully fund more academic research, and its history of conversation including older sources that are still of value, than do the British (since Thatcher) and the US (never). In France and Germany, graduate students are initiated into the history of the long debate/conversation, instead of its most recent phase, by those who were similarly trained and now guide the next generation. Just as an example, there are book-length publications that are rather like phonebooks in size. They are bibliographies on topics. One is Oxtony's Ancient Iran and Zoroastrianism. The French and German articles and books listed are 20 to 1 compared to English articles.
Anyway, within an English-speaking academic context, I have the same problem you do.
Hey, I'm an "old source"; but I've had recent queries about Russia and Georgia! Anyway, sometimes forgotten sources are cited without proper credit. You mentioned one British that you suspect of plagiarism vis a vis Rydberg. I suspect you are right but its a very difficult claim to make and justify within academia (very high standards to establish it). But, the fact that such an "alleged" case worked, reinforces your point. Older sources, such as Rydberg, have not been read, are relatively unknown, and thus, in an English-speaking academia, an author who "borrows" from this relatively unknown and little read source succeeds in getting away with it.
US universities tend to have a teaching, instead of a research, focus. For example, I know of no US community of Norse scholars over 20 persons (sort of a critical mass) or of Zoroastrian scholars. In Britain, Thatcher notoriously gutted the universities. One of the professors when I was in school, a Brahmin and expert on Sanskrit, Vedas (he was one of the high-caste brahmins of Bihar who still do the vedic rituals), and Hindu Ethical Philosophy, came to the US after Thatcher gutted research positions at Leeds.
Since there has been some indication that a narratival summary as guidance along with just a raw quotation of sources is desired, I will next give a summary of Vedic cosmogony from the mythological, philological and etymological concordance/dictionary/commentary of the Vedas. This document is incorporated into the Vedas as an internal and integral part of them by their final compilers and editors before the "canon" was closed.
Re: Adyan and List/Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
Polome, with his standing in the field, could not be bullied. He would tirelessly rehearse and explain it to students how the retreat from his early thesis was a rational one, especially since some of them snatched onto every word breathed by him (he showed infinite interest in his students).
Re: Adyan and List/Re: Re: Tyr, Odin, and Kingship: Some Evidence
Okay. Some observations and confessions, Adyan,
How distorted the Greek material is vis a vis IE roots is
based on how much of Aegean myth it absorbed. Were
the Minoans IE?, Sumerian? or an unknown (I know
of one guy at University of Kansas who swears Linear
A and Etruscan are forms of Basque -- he is a professor
in computer science and was a "communications and
code decipher" officer in the US Airforce.) - shaped by
Egypt how much? Part of the complicating picture is
how IE was the Anatolian materials, Hititte, Medean,
Confession, as a young kid (ahead of my time, had
two grandfathers as Ph.Ds) I spent the summers with
my made up Dionysian Mysteries cult that impressed
classics academics with its accuracy and fall-winters,
an Odin cult. I actually worked out the relations between
the Orphic and Hesiod theogonies for my first college
paper in classics that they wanted published.
Given where the Germanic tribes were, they were more likely
to have absorbed Iranian-Zoroastrian material rather than been
isolated. Its no accident Rydberg cites the Zoroastrian stuff more
than the Vedic.
Re: Quick Miscellaneous Hoenir Notes
I grew up with this.
--- On Tue, 9/23/08, CX wrote:
Subject: Quick Miscellaneous Hoenir Notes
Date: Tuesday, September 23, 2008, 8:33 AM
"The children are told that the stork not only brings luck, but little brothers and sisters in its bill ready swaddled. Of the numerous children's stork songs, we may give this one :
What claps in the house so loud, hark! hark!
I believe, I believe, it is the stork!
That was the stork ; so children be still,
And here what I know tell you will.
He has brought you a brother, and out is flown,
But has bitten your mother to the bone.
She lies now ill, but is full of joy,
Nor heeds the pain for the love of the boy.
The little brother so sweet and small,
Has brought with him sugar-plums for you all.
But never an one shall taste a sweet,
That cannot be still and most discreet."
(WX Howitt, The Rural and Domestic Life of Germany, Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, London, 1842, p. 102.)
"The following remarks by Prof. angelo de Gubernatis may be added : --- "The heron and the stork are two birds which equally love the water, and therefore serve to represent the cloudy, rainy, wintry, or gloomy sky..." (F.C. Birkbeck Terry, Review of "The Stork and the New-Born Child", in Notes and Queries, Seventh Series, Volume Twelfth, July-December 1891, John C. Francis, London, 1891p. 414.)
Compare with Parjanya as the bringer of babies and the cloudy skies of rain.
Working through the Nirukta (and other early textual commentaries), I realized that its cross-references are quotes only without our book, hymn, stanza and verse notational devices. I plugging what I can find into a software program that is now used in academia and is really, sort of, making in print critical editions a thing of the past. This program creates a searchable database of all manuscript versions, variant translations, and exhaustive footnotes of anything anyone ever published about a particular text. It, of course, has to be researched in order to enter into the database. I'm now creating a partial such database to flesh out the Nirukta's citations.
Anyway, its expensive but I highly recommend getting a copy. You can cite from it in a document and it automatically creates both footnote and bibliographic reference. It brings up alternative original manuscript variations and it allows you to make marginal notes that can be links, if you wish, across several sections of the text you are working with or to other texts (which you have to add in if not done before you), and it is a searchable database by several methods including the notes you added.
Nirukta Re: Portfolio Software
The Nirukta is the internal concordance, mythological, philological and etymological reference document of the Vedas.
I'll comment on what you have.
Re: Symbolism: Train of Thought
In Vedic material which I hope to post some this weekend, there are three worlds - celestial, atmospheric, terrestrial (each is also threefold making nine worlds total).
The gods are born from a golden egg (the celestial form of Agni) as a single intertwined flame that then whirl out from each other as separate flames (as if sparks dancing away from each other) but the language used is the same as that of humans first intertwined)
and the golden egg is also the world tree. Humans solar aspect is born of the sun and taught by the terrestrial aspect of the sun-fire, Agni.
Language, has terrestrial and celestial components that, as living language is atmospheric. As atmospheric, language as living mantra is Vayu. The terrrestrial is the physical sound and marks. The celestial is artha or meaning. Vayu is the breathe (atman) and self (atman) of mantra. BTW, artha is a form of rta (cosmic law, cosmic order).
Rta, that sustains the devas, has three circulating energies that keep the devas energized. Agni (who is still their uterine golden egg, even after they emerge, they are still in that golden egg) as the celestial energy of immortality. Then the have Vayu as the atmospheric energy that is the breathe (atman) of the devas as their intelligence (atman). Finally, the terrestrial energy circulating to keep the devas young is soma.
Humans, as part of the rta-energy gird, also have agni, vayu, and soma circulating within their psycho-spiritual make-up. Also, agni force is solar, vayu force is intermediate, and soma force is lunar. Humans, when rightly fulfilling their vocation, feed the devas, who in turn amplify the energy, and feed back the humans and each other with refined or transmuted or better quality energy. In solidarity, humans and devas fulfilling their rta-vocations increase the spirited (brahman) immunity rta has against decay and chaos; if humans and devas begin to fail, the whole rta network begins to fail, a world system fails.
Last image, this whole rta network is Prajapati who is that golden egg that is this world. Humans and devas are more like organs or cells within the body of Prajapati.
Re: Symbolism: Train of Thought
If you don't get the significance of my posts on this topic - reflect on the macrocosm-microcosm question you raised. I offered the Vedic material on that.
Nirukta Summary Part 1
Remember, this is the reference work internal to the Vedas.
Summary: Teachings of Audumbarayana
Language and Speech
Language is living speech whose power unites the force of the three worlds. It conveys mind-force of one who with tapas (yogic heat-energy) speaks. Language joins terrestrial (physical) and celestial (mental) through the intermediate. The intermediate is the living breath and it is with tapas and with intention-controlled mind the medium force giving mantras maya (magical), brahman (great-making power) and daksa (causal efficacy). Vayu rules over the intermediate. Vayu is the atman (pun meaning both breathe and self) of mantra. The goddess Vac (divine Word) is the celestial source of mantra and Varuna is the celestial source of Vayu as his exhalation.
The terrestrial (physical) aspect of language is vaikrta-dhvani and the celestial (mental) aspect is prakta-dhvani. Physical sounds formed by the mouth and received by ear and physical marks received by eye: this is vaikrta-dhvani. Like all terrestrial things, vaikrta-dhvani grows and matures over time before coming to an end. It is sequentially built up in time by a progressive assemblage of elements, sounds or marks, akanksa (mutual expectancy cues), yogyata (consistency of building up or joining elements), samnidhi (proximity of elements), and anumana dhvani (inference cues in joining elements).
The celestial (mental) aspect of language is prakta-dhvani. It pertains to artha (meaning) that is rooted in rta (cosmic order and divine law). Artha (meaning or cognized thought) is eko navayavah sabdah (a single integral symbol) and vakya-sphota (partless Gestalt) in which its cognition of the terrestrial (physical) assemblage of physical elements, sounds and marks, evocatively sparks as pratibha (instantaneous flash of insight or intuition) that grasps the artha (meaning) of a sentence as a whole.
Indriyanityam vacanam audumbarayanah tatra catustvam nopapadyate.
The perceptive-cognition grasps as its complete representation a whole sentence as taught by Audumbarayana. Words are not thoughts. A thought-cognition is only in the form of a whole sentence.
Sentences are organically parts of a whole rta-network of sentences they logically presuppose or imply.
COMMENT: For example, if we say,
1. Odin steals mead from the giants.
then sentence 1 logically includes
1a. Someone steals mead from the giants.
1b. Someone steals something from the giants.
1c. Someone steals something from someone.
1d. Someone did something to someone.
1e. There is a person named Odin.
1f. There is something called \93mead\94.
1g. There is a type of event that is an action by an agent.
1h. One type of action is stealing.
1i. There is a species called \93giants\94.
1j. etc., etc., etc.,
Vyaptimatvat tu sabdayaniyastvac casabdena samjnakaranam vyavaharatham
Words only function in the context of a sentence as the basic unit of cognition and speech and only the whole sentence is present in the mind as a cognition.
Words are nama (names) for a group of sentences that enter as ingredients to a sentence.
COMMENT: For example, if you have two persons named \93Joe\94, then the meaning of \93Joe\94 on any occasion in order to correctly pick out the correct person logically includes a group of sentences that help pick out one Joe from another.
1. Joe is the father of Henry.
2. Joe is husband to Francis.
3. Henry is the eldest son of Joe and Francis.
4. Joe is the son of Brian.
By contrast, for the other Joe-
1. Joe is the son of Nicholas.
2. Joe is a bachelor.
3. Joe\92s girlfriend is Hilda.
Artha (meaning or the complete cognized thought) is a vakya-sphota (partless Gestalt) of a whole sentence. It has cognitive-logical and emotional force but also cultural significance often rooted in the faded nirudha-laksanas (tacit metaphors rooted in mythology) so that the aim of etymology is not to find out the origin or history of a word but to understand the real significance of sentences including the role of tacit metaphors and allusions to mythology that both make up the context of a sentence and component parts of a sentence.
COMMENT: For example, from Vedic times, Indo-European mental vocabulary is metaphorically-based on our visual experience. Thus, these visual metaphors operate constantly in our language without our being aware they are metaphorical. By contrast, other cultures use auditory experience for their mental vocabulary. Hebrew, for example, uses \93I hear\94 for \93I understand\94.
1. I see the point.
2. It was an illuminating discussion.
3. Really? I\92m still in the dark.
4. The lightbulb went on.
5. He had a flash of insight.
6. That was brilliant!
7. She has good in-sight.
Note: the words veda, video, window, and idea are IE cognates of each other.
Other examples of hidden metaphors are \96
1. Invest your time wisely and don\92t waste it. [time = money]
2. Before I depart, I would like to say that I have reached a few of my goals in life. [life = journey, goals = destinations, life = here/death = elsewhere, death = departure]
Speech and cognition in the intermediate are only two aspects of each other in a whole sentence as a single undivided utterance and its meaning a partless whole that sphota (bursts, sphota comes from the root sphut- \93to burst\94) into pratibha (instantaneous flash of insight).
Categories of Speech and Being
Sat (being), whether avyakta pradhana (unmanifest potential \96 causal state) or vyakta (manifested state of actualization) as satyam (actual existence) has these padarthas (categories of speech, cognition-thought, and modes of being) of namarupa (forms of being and names). First it breaks into two main kinds of being: dravya (substance as independently existing thing) and samavayas (the categories of predication that inhere in a substance as its modes of being or attributes). These are guna (quality), karman (activity, from kriya meaning \93work\94), samanya (universal or generic nature, as in \93Joe is a human being\94.), and visesa (particularity or individuality, as in we don\92t just see humanness walking around, we see that human being who is this particular Joe).
Sat (being or possible being) includes asat (possible nonbeing). Asat (nonbeing) is not the logical contradictory of sat (being). Sat (being) is born from asat (nonbeing). But they are logical contraries: a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time. Asat (nonbeing) and sat (being) are not contradictories because asat (nonbeing) is the avyakta pradhana (unmanifest potential causal state of all possible being) that is the avyakta (hidden) karana (cause, related to karman, kriya, and prakriti, the latter word is literally, \93before kriya\94, hence is potential action) of sat (being) as satyam (actualized existence) as visible and outward effect (vyakta). The true contradictory to sat (being) and asat (nonbeing) is the contradictory to both actual (satyam) and potential (pradhana) being because it is abhava (logically impossible nonexistence, such as 2+2+5 or a parentless child or square circle).
Dravya (substance or a thing) is that which can exist (relatively) independently. The fundamental substances are: prthivi (earth as element), ap (water as element), tejas (fire as element), vayu (air as element), akasa (ether as element), kala (time as the infinite continuum of succession), dik (space as an infinite continuum of co-existence at the same time), jiva (living being) and tad ekam (That One), asur ekah (The Living Source-Font from the root asu- meaning \93life\94 and the root of asura, supreme class of divinity), Vasu Asura (vasu means overabundant wealth and good, asura is supreme class of divinity), who as asura uniquely exists first-personally as the ultimate I and as the ultimate We. He is the true substance.
Cognition and Knowledge
Pramana (valid means or media of knowledge) of prama (valid knowledge) includes pratyaksa (immediate perception \96 whether external or internal, so the mind\92s indriyas or spiritual senses see through the physical senses while caitanya or self-consciousness and spiritual visionary states are inner pratyaksa \96 it is immediate because it is direct experiential contact with its object), anumana (mediate inference, logical reasoning \96 mediate because it is reflection on the results of experience) and sruti (revelation). As a mode of pratyaksa, caitanya (consciousness) illumines itself and others. Rsis dhih (rishi\92s vision) is a form of pratyaksa. Agni is the messenger-medium of dhih. Soma is the inspiration of the expression of dhih into manisa (thought-provoking or inspired expression evoking vision in others) and Vayu conveys manisa into brahman mantra (magically or inspirationally powerful spell-speech) through tapas (yogic heat-energy). With Agni, Soma and Vayu, rsisis are vipascitah (uplifted-carried-inspired seers) anointed as birds (or their vision as birds) with the magic of the Asura (RV IX.177), they see by Dyaus\92s light (RV IX76), which is the gulham jyoti (hidden light as conscience \96 conscience is the template for all true vision and is the inborn or prenatal knowledge of rta in jivas) set within the heart (RV.VI.96) and with effective mantras brought forth the celestial (mental) dawn (RV VII.76) of knowledge, mantra, and sruti. Until that vision, what thing I am, acclaims the rsis, I know not, a mystery to myself fettered in my mind by concerns of this life, I wander. When first-born of rta (Agni) approached me within my heart, then of this speech I obtained a portion (RV I.164). Immanent Vasu Asura, the father is the son, guardian of rta and conscience, Varuna sharpens the medhira (wisdom), kratu (resourceful dexterity), and daksa (efficacy) of him giving expression to this vision (RV VIII.42) sustained as a bird by Agni, Soma, and Vayu.
To be continued but to add some clarifying classification, from the fifth chapter of the cosmological section of the Nirukta and elaborating, for instance, RV VII 35 and AV X.9, the three realms mentioned above are described as follows \96
Guardian of rta, Varuna measures the three worlds that Visnu surveys by his three steps. Separating the parents, making Dyaus a gelding, Indra separates the parents, Dyausprthivi, to make the place for living beings. Gelding did Dyaus become. Brahman asuras established their rule and realm in vyoman (the celestial vault) as dyusthana (world of Dyaus) ruled by Mitra-Varuna and Adityas. Ksatram (dominion of the warrior devas) was established as Vayu was exhaled by Varuna. This ksatram (ksatriya dominion) is antariksasthana (intermediate world) that is also called madhyamasthana (middle world) ruled by Indra-Vayu. The terrestrial earth is the vaisya world of the Vasus. It is prithivisthana (earth world) represented by the Asvins
To be continued\85..
Nirukta Summary Part 2
Note: with this part, this summary has so far drawn from the teachings of three Vedic sages whose teachings are incorporated into the Nirukta. These sages are Audumbara, Jasha (final editor of the whole Nirukta into its final form), and now, Sayana.
Classification of Beings according to rta (Nirukta 3.7.22 with Sayana's teachings)
The asura class of divinities is like the daityas (demons) in that the asuras are not bound by rta as the devas are. The devas, whose satyam is defined by and derived from rta, are mortal without it. Asuras are asur ekah (source-font of life), and thus, asuras are svayambhu (self-existent by their own power, AV 19.53) whereas the devas are not. Devas derive their satyam form the circulation of celestial, intermediate, and terrestrial energy-foods that sustain them. Agni is their celestial bestower of immortality. Vayu is their intermediate breath. Soma is their terrestrial sustenance that keeps them ageless. The asuras are infallible moral guardians of rta; devas are the fallible upholders and sustainers of rta who draw the measure of their sustenance and strength from the measure they fulfill their rta-vocations. Asuras are rtasya gopa (shepherds or guardians of rta) and rta pati (lords of rta) while devas are followers and observers of rta as its servants (rtavan). Devas can gain or lose their immortality, their vitality, and their ageless youth by excellently upholding or failing to uphold rta. Thus, the sins of Indra caused him to lose his divinity and to become a forest ascetic doing penance and yoga. Devas are in their sustenance interdependent. By supporting rta the devas strengthen their interdependent life from Agni, Vayu, and Soma. Thus, rta, from ar-, means well-fitted together, properly dove-tailed, as are the devas at their best, one-minded, one-intentioned, proceeding to the one purposeful accomplishment (RV VI 9)The asuras transcend rta, and thus, as institutors of rta are its possessors of the worldframe (RV 2.28 5.65) over which, ruled by Mitra-Varuna, the asuras are the sadguna (being quality) of Varuna as samraj (ultimate universal sovereign RV 6.67). as omniscient ones (RV I 25; 842). The asuras are Aryaman in their nobility as asura arya (noble lords RV 7.65). The devas can fail to support but cannot obstruct or overturn.or violate the dhrta vrata (fixed laws-ordinances-commands) of Mitra-Varuna (5, 69; 5, 63).
Varuna is the judge of devas and all jivas (living beings) and the exclusive one who can forgive devas and men of failing to live according to rta (7, 86; 1,25; 6,74; 10, 85; 1,152; 7,60; 2,28; 5,85; 7,89) and the righteous join him in the next life (10.14) in the highest heaven that escapes dissolution. The honorable dead proceed by the path of the fathers to Yama\92s realm under the celestial mountain of the north guided by the lunar southwestern fire of Soma. The honorable warriors proceed also by the path of the fathers via the milky way to join Vayu\92s Rudriyas and Maruts in the intermediate world also by the southwestern fire now of Vayu. The most honorable proceed by the solar path of the gods up the cosmic mountain through the celestial axis/world tree to the highest heaven within dyusthana joining Varuna. The duskritah (evil-doers or rta criminals), papasah (perverts), anritah (un-lawful or anti-rta), and astyah (untrue, liars) for themselves dig their own vavra (pit) in the padam gabhiram (deep place) below all worlds into Narakasthanam (hell, according to Sayana\92s teachings in the Nirukta, \93a place as far removed from Asura and dyusthana as is the intermediate center from the utmost celestial pole where reigns Varuna in the highest heaven. Roaming about, like wolves seducing their brotherless sisters and spouses, in evil ways, trick and are unfaithful and untrue, they themselves for themselves this deep place have made (IV 5,5). Indra-Soma away from youthful life dash these evil doers down into that silent pit, the gloom profound and bottomless in doom so that not one may ever emerge again from there (VII 104). Indra-Vayu take their breath and Indra-Agni take their wholeness of life. Dumb they are never to speak again; never to possess mantra.
The immanent Vasu, who is the transcendent Varuna, Varuna is the uniquely the mayin (magician) who deploys and rules by maya, the power of the Asura (6.48\92 7.28; 10, 132; 5, 63). It is by Varuna\92s dhrta vrata and maya that dyaus and pritihivi are held apart, measured by Varuna (5.85; 6,70;,7,86;8,41) Visnu surveys the space of three worlds and Indra by his might uncouples the parents by Varuna empowering them by his maya (5,62, Ni Vaigh 7.11.12; 34.4.5) and establishes the three realms (5.19) when he breathed out Vayu (7.85) to establish the middle world of the devas. Mitra is the Asura facing this world within this world during day whereas Varuna is the Asura within this world pointing also to that, unmanifested, world (SB 12.9).
Re: Nirukta Summary Part 2
I forgot to add, to be continued...
Nirukta Summary Part 3
Nirukta (2. 3.4; 4.4.5)
Sayana\92s classification of asuras, devas and vasus
Asuras and Vasus are kindred divinities: only Agni is kin to all orders of jivas (living beings). Some asuras are vasus so celestial and terrestrial are linked. Devas, except Agni, are of intermediate world. Vayu has celestial source but is intermediate and Soma has terrestrial source but is inwardly intermediate. Only Agni all as Prajapati. Only Agni is celestial first-born; intermediate born of nine mothers; terrestrial born of humans and father of humans as Vivasvant. Prthivi is asura and vasu. Of the celestial and terrestrial is she. Asuras and vasus share asura status. These exceptions aside:
celestial asuras --
Dyaus, Daksa, Bhaga, Aryaman, Varuna, Asura, Adityas, Aditi-Prthivi, Mitra, Surya-Savitri-Vivasvant, Visnu-Pusan, Usas, Asvins, Agni, Sarasvati, Vac, Prajapati.
terrestrial vasus --
Prthivi, Sarasvati, Pusan, Agni, Soma, Asvins, Brhaspati, Rbus, Vasus, Prajapati.
intermediate devas --
Vayu, Indra, Soma, Agni, Parjanya, Apam Napat \96 Agni, Prajapati.To be continued....
Re: to (& others) re Indo-Iranian ideas
Aquatic is sort of vague. Anyway, Varuna, Apam Napat, Sarasvati (also
goddess of wisdom, education and learning -- another guise of Vac and
Aditi -- in later Hinduism, she becomes the wisdom-body-nature-maya of
Brahma as Sarasvati, of Visnu as Lakshmi, and Siva as Parvati-Kali):
just to name some off the top of my head.
Re: to (& others) re Indo-Iranian ideas
In a Greek context (Bronze Age), Poseidon (Poti-don) is husband of
the goddess earth (don), god of seas, and god of horses and bulls
(the Minoan horse and bull leaping to Poti-don is the ancestor to our
modern bull-fights. The current form of bullfights was instituted by
Julius Caesar). Some have argued Zeus and Poseidon were once the same
god: an inflection of Dyausprithivi. Just off hand, I think the
references, cross-checked, are in Findley, Harrison, and Kerenyi.
Re: to (& others) re Indo-Iranian ideas
Damn my stupid memory, I'm getting old.
There were two major sites on Crete to Zeus. One was to the "real"
Zeus at Dikte (??) who was Poseidon and the other at what became the
official site in classical times. Damn, damn, damn! I can't remember!
Re: Re: to (& others) re Indo-Iranian ideas
Also, check out Zaehner's case for Ahura Mazda taking on Varuna's characteristics (or re-acquiring them) in his Dawn and Twilight. In the later Avestan, Ahura Mazda has the celestial waters as his wives - as does Varuna in the Vedas. Otherwise, Haurvatet is the patron Amesha Spenta of the waters.
Nirukta Puzzle: Agni = Surt?
suvite, from root su- , protect or refine old by bringing new, ending well/giving birth to, trial-passing trial by fire, surta - rta preserver by destruction, dayatih, creates, gives, distributes, separates/divide, destroyer/refiner, of musavant, the land who repels devas, where devas noncriminal enemies find protection as rta ages and falters, bane of devas, mus- , old, met-, to judge, mete, fix, review, scrutiny critical inspection.
[note: de Vries, J. relates the Muspel and Vedic Musavant with the German das Muster (model, paradigm), die Musterung (scrutiny or critical review in accordance with model or paradigm), and das Musterspiel (end of game, the play/game failing to pass muster (cognate to German), scrutinized end of play/game, gameover, time for new game)
Agni Musavant, devas fail and rta tires, first-born, that golden egg that flame, watches for the time when devas fail and manus fail, irresistable protecting rta old from anrta new, protects old rta by new rta, he gives to life, and divides, irresistible,, dreadful, he burns the realms that become anrta, burning devas who tire, burns and metes out and fixes, Agni the alarm, treasure-knower, slaying the devas become foes of rta, musavant come, become death, purify Agni surta and dyavaprthivi couple again, the gelding becomes visvah pitr and the golden egg renews.
Note: in the Prose Edda you have allfather before Odin is even born and after Muspelheim and Surt destroy the worlds by fire and Odin is dead, allfather returns plus the gameboard is found on the plain again -- new game.
Re: Nirukta Puzzle: Agni = Surt?
Note that musavant also extinguishes Vivasvant (the sun). What happens when Heimdall and his nemesis meet? There has been comparison of Agni with the Roman god Janus, god of beginnings and endings with some kind of connection to boundaries at the edge of the domesticated world between the realm of Faunus and Silvanus, and the cycles of war and peace. Heimdall has also been noted as the god of borders, the edge of the world and beginnings and endings.
Rome's Fires Vedic Fires Re: Nirukta Puzzle: Agni = Surt?
In a Vedic ritual to be posted here when we get to it, fires are to be lit from the orderly hearth fire for settled transactions with the beyond. The same is the case in Rome.
In Vedic ritual, the southwestern fire is a guardian fire that is watcher and protector of rta
that protects all within the sacrificial mound that is according to rta lest it become the uncontrolled purifier. As guardian of the within of the sacred precinct, it was also the watcher within and without (conscience). In Rome, the southwestern fire, Vulcanus, guarded Rome against "enemies" (disease, foreign armies, demonic havoc, bad ancestors) outside the walls. But if Rome did not fulfill law, the fire would turn upon it as dangerous fire, Vulcan. Agni seems to serve the same fuction. I suggest Heimdall, Surt, and etc. do to. Both Vedic India and Rome had the sense that virtue could hold off doom.
Re: Rome's Fires Vedic Fires Re: Nirukta Puzzle: Agni = Surt?
Notice in Lincoln, the cross-IE name of the one sacrificed is *yemo. There is a forthcoming book coming out on Germanic ritual. I have a contributing chapter as contributing author on ritual sites comparing Germanic with Vedic and Baltic sites. Basically, at all these sites, based on the physical remains, there are three fires. The first is the terrestrial, western and round hearth fire. The second is the celestial, eastern and square sacrificial fire. The third is the aerial, southwestern (or due south of the hearth fire), and crescent guardian fire. The hearth fire was where the food-stuffs were cooked. The eastern fire is where the portion to the gods was burnt.
Read the food cycle in Lincoln. Eating is the undoing of the sacrifice or reconstitution of the cosmic man. Sacrifice and food are mirrors of each other.
There are several detailed studies on the fairly exact parrallels between Vedic and Roman ritual including Dumezil's Archaic Roman Religion and Woodard's Vedic and Roman Ritual: Indo-European Ritual Space (or something like that) plus his Indo-European Pak (classroom pak now available on Amazon). We have enough of the "theology" of Rome's sacred fires to be able to match the beliefs about them with Vedic beliefs. The main difference is that the WHOLE city of Rome was made a sacrificial mound (which is one reason that, as Romans themselves complained about during the hot summers and were scandalized about when Marc Antony didn't, Romans had to wear the sacred outer robe over the toga because it had to be worn in ritual space in the city of Rome when in public -- they would leave the city in the summer so they could shed that ceremonial and hot robe).
And I have Kaliff's book: complimentary professional copy. I have browsed in it but have not read it. I would also recommend Lincoln's other main book. The sacrifice of the cosmic man is the priestly (brahman) and producers (vaisya farmers and herders) myth whose ritual equivalent is the dragon-slaying of the IE warrior caste. Basically, Yama/Yima (sort of first man, first king, first teacher of religion in the golden age) is tempted into evil and is usurped and/or transformed into the three-headed dragon/wolfish-serpent (that eats human flesh) named Asi Vrtra Dasa (Vedic), or Ahi Verethra Dahaka (Zoroastrian), or Illuyanta (Hittite),
Ahi Vaha dah (Armenian, Sarmatian, Alan -- here see Littlton's book on the Persian tribes that settled in Europe and Britain and the connection of this myth carried by the Persian tribes to the graal cycle). The fall of Yama/Yima is the end of the golden age. Death enters the world and Yama/Yima is redeemed and assigned to make the underground vara to protect mortal life from the coming winter war. This is also the end of the solar race of humankind and the birth of the lunar race of human kind (in the Veda, lunar cycles represent mortality and there is a second creation of this race of humans from plants/tree and in the Zoroastrian, the solar race of Yima is replaeced by the lunar race of Mah and Mahranag (Mah means moon, Mah and Mahranag means lunatic - and in Rome, the deified ancestors, Manes, follow the solar path as they do in the Vedas to the gods while the undeified ancestors follow the lunar path to the fathers as they do in the Vedas) born from plants/trees/remnants of Yima/Yama. Some scholars have connected the Greek myth of Zeus and Lycaeon with this cycle of lore in which Zeus decides to destroy humanity, begins to raise up the fire of destruction (until he remembers that this fire ends the world for gods and humans and that it is not yet time) but then decides to send a universal flood. The current humanity is the descendents of the survivors of the flood. In Anatolian myth cycles, this encounter between Zeus and Lyceon is the terrestrial parallel of the same event on the divine level, Zeus slaying Typhon. Another inflection of this cycle is Perseus slaying the gorgon. The gorgon in older levels of Greek myth is three-headed with serpent heads just as Azi Dahaka in Persian and Armenian myth. Anyway, the warrior version of the human sacrifice is the dragon-slying as covered in Lincoln's book Priests, Warriors, and Cattle.
Nirukta Summary Part 4
Nirukta Summary Part 4 (11.3.; 4-6; 4.5; and TS 3.43)
Tad ekam (that One), Vasu Asura, who is asur ekah (the source font of life from Asu-), svayambhu (self existent) and possessing as sadguna (essential attributes, modes of being-existing or literally, being quality) in his/their supreme state kala (time),\85
COMMENT: Note, in sharp contrast to the Greek west and western religious/philosophical thought, deity is not timeless. Eternity is not timeless or atemporal as it is in western thought, but everlastingness through time. God _is_ time in ancient Persian and Indian thought.
COMMENT: Note that space is that two things can exist simultaneously at the same time in the sense here.
\85and avyakta pradhana (unmanifest possibilities in their causal state) which is Asura\92s prakriti (potential nature) as sarvam (the whole) and becomes the upadana karana (material cause) at the time of srsti (projection, insemination, ejaculation, creation) of manifestation of sat (being) from asat (nonbeing), when his maya (magic power) becomes nimitta karana (efficient cause) from himself by himself. Then things become vayakta satyam (actualized existence as effect). This is when prakriti (potential nature of all things) begins to kriya (work) as karma (activity) according to rta (cosmic and moral order) and karana (cause).
Tad ekam (that One), as data vasunam (giver, creator of good things, wealth-giver, or being-sharer), activates his/their maya (magic power) to emit srsti (creation form the root srj- emit, inseminate, ejaculate projects, creates) carrying that One\92s daksa iksana (efficacious or effective insight-vision-plan) as suretah (seed), which inspires and impregnates Vac (the Divine Word who is also a goddess, the goddess Aditi whose consort is Daksa). Daksa iksana (effective vision-plan), born in the lap of Aditi (father, husband and son of Aditi), is Dyaus (father), the father of all beings within the manifest world. All things, living or not, are daksa pitara (children of daksa). Daksa, who is Dyaus, is vasu suretah (rich in seed), a bull (RV I 160, 536) who as the day impregnates the cow Aditi who is the night penetrated with light and who impregnates Prthivi matar (mother earth) for Aditi and Prthivi are one. Parents, the deep and wide Dyaus and Prithivi, supreme milk-kine these outpour their milk (IV 23). All daksa pitara are dyava putra (sons of Dyaus), dyava napata (children of Dyaus) and each is his sisu (child). These terms are synonyms in Vedas. In the womb of Aditi-prthivi, his seed strikes as asanimat (energy-bolt of life). That golden and fiery bolt is hiranya-garbha (golden embryo) within the celestial waters of Aditi\92s womb. First-born, that is Agni. That is Prajapati, who is idam sarvam (all the gods), aparimita (unlimited), three-quarters anirukta (unmanifested or unused power held in reserve), ayatayama (inexhaustible). Hiranyagharbha is the sarva (whole, the all) that further differentiated is that One which develops into the all (RV VIII 50; 10,121; SB 10.42; 104.27; 22.214.171.124;126.96.36.199;188.8.131.52; 104.2; 184.108.40.206; TS 2.6.3). Following rta (law of cosmos as process of manifestation or law as lawful-flow), proper maturation of manifestation avoids the ideal extremes of jami (excessive unity), bahutra (over differentiation) causing nanatua (dispersion) into prthak (lifeless fragmentation, dead atomism). Within that golden embryo, who is Agni Prajapati, extending Prajapati while maintaining interdependent organic ties (bandhu), the gods growing within move away from jami (excessive unity) and avoid prthak (fragmentation) by growing rta (cosmic order) according to rta (cosmic order) and maintaining nadana (vital connections) and bandhus (living bonds) of living beings in brahman (great-making) and vayu (spirited) solidarity watched and protected by Mitra-varuna. Intertwined together were all the gods within that embryo in the celestial waters (ambhas), guarded by Varuna who ever dwells in those waters who are the wives of Varuna, closely clasped together in that maternal uterine space of Aditi\92s womb as a single flame, Agni, first-born of rta, fiery seed of Dyaus (RV 4.14) and then from each whirling out as flames leaping from a roaring fire, you gods as sparks and hot dust-sparks whirled away as in dance. You who were born in the ambhas (celestial waters) of the womb of Aditi Prthivi (RV X72;63). Within those ambhas (celestial waters), guarding that golden embryo, resided the samraj (universal sovereign) of all jivas (living beings), asuras, devas, and vasus, is Varuna, the pati (lord, guardian) of rta and ambhaspati (guardian lord of the celestial waters); in their midst he moves (RV 7.49).
Inexhaustible and power reserved (ayatayama), space for kriya (work) of others allowed, Prajapati appears vrtta (exhausted), dugdha (milked-out) and rircana (drained), so that asuras, devas, vasus, and jivas begin their part according to rta. Thus, they sacrifice and reconstruct him, as the ordered all, into a self-sustaining whole of vitally interdependent parts. Varuna measures out the three worlds and establishes his place in the highest celestial realm. Visnu surveys the three worlds for the three classes of gods, brahman asuras, ksatriya devas, and vaisya vasus. Vayu, born from the exhalation of Varuna, empowers Indra to push up and down, to separate the parents, to create the space for beings. Uncoupled, Dyaus is gelding. Brahman asuras establish their rule and realm in vyoman (celestial vault) as the dyusthana (realm of Dyaus) represented by the rules Mitra-varuna. Mitra is the rta that Varuna guards. Ksatram (ksatriya dominion) is established as Vayu\92s realm. It is antariksasthana (intermediate world) and madhyamasthana (middle world) ruled by Indra-vayu. Indra is the defender that Vayu empowers. Prthvisthana (earth world) is represented by the Asvins. These realms are indirectly referred to when these groups of deities are invoked. These groups are synonyms.
Asuras, Devas, Vasus
Adityas, Indra-Vayu, Vasus
Surya, Vayu-Indra, Agni-Asvins
Agni, Indra, Vasus
Adityas, Indra-Agni, Vasus
Asuras, Indra-Rudra, Asvins
Adityas, Maruts, Vasus
Adityas, Rudriyas, Asvins
(RV 10.158; 5.51; AV 5.3; 6,74; 8.1)
In light of the Vedic Cosmogony a Greek Parallel?
Notice a similar cosmogony to the one provided in the Vedas: here, in the Greek from Orphic sources, Fire-Wind-Ether (Agni-Vayu?) impregnates Night (Nyx, Aditi?). Here it is culled from multiple sources but mainly drawn almost verbatim from Kerenyi\92s telling of it (Gods of the Greeks, Thames and Thames, 1951).
Before all, there was neither heaven nor earth nor air. Then the God (Ov M1), Khronos (in the Orphic scheme, everlasting time in contrast to his titanic grandson, Kronos or mortal time), celestial Flame and Wind (in the Orphic scheme, this Wind is Aither) (Or 24) , in the beginning embraced Nyx (the goddess night) who, Homer tells us (Il 14.261) , is the greatest goddess, a goddess of whom even Zeus stands in sacred awe. Ancient Nyx conceived of the Wind (Aither) and laid her silver egg (Or 70.2) in the yawning-gap (Chaos, which as Kerenyi points out did not originally mean turmoil or mixed up confusion, but rather, an \93open place\94 and accepting \93restful place\94) lap of Night. From the Egg sprang the son of the rushing Wind-Ether (Aither), a god with golden wings. He is Eros, the god of love; but this is only one name. The god\92s other names, such of them as we still know,\85refer only to particular details of the old story. His name of Protogonas means only that he was the \93firstborn\94 of all gods. His name Phanes exactly explains what he did when he hatched from the Egg: he revealed and brought into the light everything that had previously laid hidden in the silver Egg \96 in other words, the whole world (note: Phanes, related to Phos or \93light\94 is the \93phainonanizer\94 or the one who brings to light \93phainomena\94 \96 our word phenomenon is derived from this terminological complex of forgotten mytholegems that really and originally mean the things brought to light or into the open or revealed)\85.According to another form of this story, Gaia (the earth) lay in down below in the Egg, and Ouranos (the heavens) and Gaia (earth) were married, and this was the work of Eros (Or 16.112)
Abbreviations: IL is Homeri Ilias, Or is Orphicorum fragmenta, Ov M is Ovid Metamorphosis. Reasons why the later is used would take longer than I can do in one post. Nirukta Summary Part 4 (11.3.; 4-6; 4.5; and TS 3.43)
Vedic and Orphic was Re: In light of the Vedic Cosmogony a Greek Parallel?
There is a piece by Kate Alsobrook, The Beginning of Time: Vedic and Orphic Theogonies and Poetics (2008) , comparing the two traditions in an Indo-European perspective.
Oct 16, 2008
Lodur, Heimdall, Mundilfore
Rydberg, somewhere if I'm not mistaken, argues a connection between Mundilfore, Lodur and Heimdallr. Its in Teutonic Mythology correct? I'm away from that book and out in the woods. There is another piece by a graduate student I'm reading that makes a fourfold claim that (1) Mundilfore (owner of world mill of ages) has a ninefold spouse (aspects of fate and transition of the world ages), (2) Mundilfore might be the father of Heimdall, and (3) Heimdall might be Lodur. Thus, (4) Mundifore would be Bor, father of Odin, Ve, and Vili. Can someone give me a quick email summary of Rydberg's discussion in TM? Thanks.
Rydberg Conflations Re: Lodur, Heimdall, Mundilfore (Brief Synopsis of VR)
As we can see from my Vedic quotes and Nirukta summary (again, the internal
reference of the Vedas themselves), in his handling of the Vedic materials in
the case of Vayu and in the case of Matarisvan, Rydberg conflates and distorts a
distinction systemic to the Vedas. He conflates the distinction between the
brahmanic and Asuric celestial realm of dyusthana that occupies the highest
celestial vault (vyoman) (ruled by Mitra-Varuna) and the ksatriyic and devic
atmospheric warrior dominion (ksatram) that is called the intermediate realm
(antariksasthana) or the middle realm (madyamasthana) where Indra-Vayu rule.
Several consequences in his handling of Vedic materials stem from this --
(1) Because of the conflation of these distinctions, he does not see that Vayu
only rules the intermediate aerial realm and not the heavens. Vayu has reign
over devas; he does not over Asuras. Over the devas, he is the magical ruler
while Indra is the juridical ruler just as on the higher celestial realm Varuna
is the magical ruler while Mitra is the juridical ruler. Thus, both Varuna at
the ausric and brahmanic celestial level and Vayu at the devic and ksatriyic
aerial intermediate level tend to reign over night and the dead while Mitra and
Indra tend to be associated with day and the living and "this worldly" affairs
at the asuric celestial and devic aerial levels respectively.
(2) Rydberg conflates aspects of Agni. Agni is the _only_ Vedic god that lives
in all three realms: celestial, intermediate, and terrestrial. Two other gods
occupy two realms but the rest seem to occupy only one. Vayu has a celestial
source as Varuna's exhalation but lives in the intermediate realm. Soma has a
terrestrial source but also lives in the intermediate realm. In contrast to the
asuras who are self-existing from themselves, the devas, gods of the
intermediate realm, are not by nature immortal or youthful. They draw life from
Agni (immortality), Soma (youth), and Vayu (breathe, life). Devas are the heroic
warrior gods similar to the Aesir. Vasus are the nature gods similar to the
Vanir. Asuras seem forgotten in German lore (unless Mimir is a faded relection
of an Asura).
Because Rydberg conflates these distinctions, he mishandles the Vedic material
on Agni and Matarisvan in his discussion of Lodur, Heimdall, Mundilfore. Here is
the Vedic material with citations to both Rigveda and Nirukta.
(2) Matarisvan, according to the Nirukta, is Agni and his ability to
self-ignite. Matarisvan is a name of Agni as growing (risva) in his mother
(mata). In this form as Matarisvan, Agni is also identified explicitly as the
messager of Vivasvant (the celestial sun and a celestial form of Agni), as Yama
(solar progenitor of the human race) and first teacher of the human race as
In Agni's celestial form as both the golden egg (hiranyagharbha) and the fire
generated from the world mill, both the Nirukta and RV have this to say of Agni
"as celestial germ (the hiranyagharbha) he is called Tanunapat, he becomes
Narasamsa when he is kindled; when as Matarisvan he was fashioned in his mother
(ami mita matari) (mirukta 1141), he enlivens (Vayu) into being the swift living
flight of wind (instead of just dead air) (RV 3.29:NIrukta 1,143). Also, in the
RV, ""The wise know one being is variously called Agni, Yama, Matarisvan (RV 1,
164)" for Agni as Yama is the first parent of mankind and first teacher of
mankind who as Yama is the son of celestial Agni Vivasvat and as first teacher
of mankind is Matarisvan, messenger of Vivasvat" (Nirukta 1.143). Agni, as born
in the higest celestial realm, appeared to Matarisvan" (RV 1.143), appeared to
Matarisvan and Vivasvat (RV 1.31) amd Matarisvan, who is Agni in the form of a
messenger of Vivasvat,
brought Agni from afar to man (RV 10,46; 1.128). Matarisvan, aerial Agni and
messenger of Vivasvat, brought to here (the terrestrial realm) from afar (the
celestial realm) Agni Vaisvanara (RV 6.8). In the Nirukta, Matarisvan is said to
be a compound of mata (mother) and risva (growing within his) - so literally,
the name is a name of Agni as growing within his mother.
World Mill and Pole Star Shift
On the world mill mythology around the world, I recommend the history of science
and history of mythology book, Hamlet's Mill by two MIT Historians of Science,
Hertha von Dechend and Giorgio Santillana (biographer of Galileo). By the way,
the book quotes, in agreement, Rydberg.
Basic argument, the world mill is the axis of true north (not magnetic north) of
our angled spinning earth. This tilt shifts over time, precessional shift, where
a new pole star (out of a group of seven northern stars) is selected. Their
argument is a large chunk of world mythology associated with the world mill,
world tree, or world mountain (three incarnations of the same motif) is about
the great year (a world age) and precession. Note: they also document that the
higher gods live through all the ages, the devas and aesir die at the end of a
world age in a great conflagration to be replaced by a new race of demigods and
new race of humans.
Note that some science illiterate types have not seen that some Vedic/Avestan
names are star names.
(First will be Vedic) or (second will be Avestan)
Aswini / Aspini = Beta Arietas
Yeoni / Yvoni is 35 Arieta
Krittika / Haptoiring = Eta Tauri/Pleiades
Saoka / Haoka = Aldebaran
Mrigashirsha / Varaz = Lanbda Orionis
Ardra / Arshtat = Alpha Orionis
Punarvasu / Ashi Vanguli = Beta Geminorum
Pushya / Pushyat = Delta Cancri
Tistra / Tishtriya = Sirius
Ashlesha / Parendi Raorath = Alpha Hydroe
Magha / Farvandin = Regulus
Purva Phaguni / Vayam = Delta Leonis
Uttara Phalguni / Ariyama = Beta Leonis
Hasta / Banoobiyo or Kharem = Delta Corvi
Chitra / Vanant = Spica Virgins
Swati / Hvati Govad = Arcturus
Vishakha / Rashne = Alpha Libroe
Anuradha / Anuradha = Delta Scorpio
Jyestha / Yastha or Verethangh = Antares
Mula / mula = Lambda Scorpii
Purva Ashadha / Payangh = Delta Sagittari
Uttara Ashadha / Druwaspa = Sigma Sagittari
Shravana / Gaoshoshrutem = Alpha Aquiloe
Danishta / Danishta = Beta Delphinum
Satha Bhishag / Satvasesh = Lambda Aquarius
Purva Bhadrapad / Par Bad = Alpha Pegasi
Uttara Bhadrapad / ------ = Gama Pegasi
Revati / Payu = Zeta Piscum
Note, the seven sleepers are the seven possible pole
stars. They awake during the end of a great year and
world conflagration and they awake when there is a polar
Precession: from Wiki
In astronomy, precession refers to the movement of the rotational axis of a
body, such as a planet, with respect to inertial space. In particular, it refers
to the precession of the Earth's rotational axis, also called the precession of
the equinoxes. (The term "precession" may also refer to the rotational movement
through space of the apsides of a body's orbit; this usage is explained later in
Like a wobbling top, the orientation of the Earth's axis is slowly but
continuously changing, tracing out a conical shape in a cycle of approximately
25,765 years (the so called Great or Platonic year, and also
the determining factor in the length of an astrological age). This movement is
caused by the gravitational forces of the Sun and the Moon, and to a lesser
extent other bodies, on the equatorial bulge of the spinning Earth. The term
"precession" typically refers only to this largest periodic motion; other
changes in the alignment of Earth's axis — nutation and polar motion — are
very much smaller in magnitude.
In ancient times the precession of the equinox referred to the motion of the
equinox relative to the background stars in the zodiac; this is equivalent to
the modern understanding. It acted as a method of keeping time in the Great
The precession of the Earth's axis has a number of observable effects. Firstly,
the positions of the north and south celestial poles appear to move in circles
against the (assumed fixed) backdrop of stars, completing one circuit in
approximately 25,700 years. Thus, while today the star Polaris lies
approximately at the north celestial pole, this will change over time, and other
stars will become the "north star". As the celestial poles shift, there is a
corresponding gradual shift in the apparent orientation of the whole star field,
as viewed from a particular position on Earth.
Secondly, the position of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun at the
solstices, equinoxes, or other time defined relative to the seasons, slowly
changes. For example, suppose that the Earth's orbital position is marked at the
summer solstice, when the Earth's axial tilt is pointing directly towards the
Sun. One full orbit later, when the Sun has returned to the same apparent
position relative to the background stars, the Earth's axial tilt is not now
directly towards the Sun: because of the effects of precession, it is a little
way "beyond" this. In other words, the solstice occurred a little earlier in the
orbit. Thus, the tropical year, measuring the cycle of seasons (for example, the
time from solstice to solstice, or equinox to equinox), is about 20 minutes
shorter than the sidereal year, which is measured by the Sun's apparent position
relative to the stars. Note that 20 minutes per year is approximately equivalent
to one year per 25,700 years, so
after one full cycle of 25,700 years the positions of the seasons relative to
the orbit are "back where they started". (In actuality, other effects also
slowly change the shape and orientation of the Earth's orbit, and these, in
combination with precession, create various cycles of differing periods; see
also Milankovitch cycles. The magnitude of the Earth's tilt, as opposed to
merely its orientation, also changes slowly over time, but this effect is not
attributed directly to precession.)
For identical reasons, the apparent position of the Sun relative to the backdrop
of the stars at some seasonally fixed time, say the vernal equinox, slowly
regresses a full 360° through all twelve traditional constellations of the
zodiac, at the rate of about 50.3 seconds of arc per year (approximately 360
degrees divided by 25,700), or 1 degree every 71.6 years.
The former professor of the history of science at MIT, Giorgio de Santillana,
argues in his book, Hamlet's Mill, that many ancient cultures may have known of
the slow movement of the stars across the sky; the observable result of the
precession of the equinox. This 700 page book, co-authored by Hertha von
Dechend, makes reference to approximately 200 myths from over 30 ancient
cultures that hinted at the motion of the heavens, some of which are thought to
date to the neolithic period.
Identifying alignments of monuments with solar, lunar, and stellar phenomena is
a major part of archaeoastronomy. Stonehenge is the most famous of many
megalithic structures that indicate the direction of celestial objects at rising
or setting. Precession complicates the attempt to find stellar alignments,
especially for very old sites. Many archaeological sites cannot be dated
exactly, making it difficult or impossible to know whether a proposed alignment
would have worked when the site was founded.
Re: World Mill and Pole Star Shift
Geography is important. Egyptians knew of more but the surmise is the skies are clearer over _ancient_ Egypt (not today by any means). The precessional shift in Vedic mythology precedes the Hindu yuga theory so it is tacit by allusion in the Vedic materials. Before the post-Buddhist Brahmanic Synthesis of classical Hinduism leading to Puranic Hinduism, there was a new Manu (thus, new human race) for each precession.
Teutonic Mythology Section # 25/ was Rydberg Conflations
As we discussed offlist, I've been carefully reading and annotating VR's Teutonic Mythology with notes on confirming support or disconfirmation. Except maybe a few quibbles-questions, he seems right on until section 25 (pp. 103-107) on Tuisto. While still working on the Vedic material, I plan to also, in addition, post on the IE myth of the two twin sons of Vivasant, Yemo-Manu (Yama-Manu, Yima-Manu, Tuisto-Mannus (ignoring the father son relation as aberration from IE tradition), Ymir-?, Remus-Romulus). Humans have two origins. The Vedic material and Mahabharata are structured in terms of this as one structuring principle as well as the old Avestan (Gathic), yonger Avestan, and Shahnama material and there are hints of this in the ancestral cult of Rome.
Humans have a solar origin and a lunar origin. Yima/Yama/Ymer/Tuisto/Remus and Manu reflect the solar genealogy. The humans born into mortal life, gayo-maretan (Gayomart was originally not a person but a state brought about by the events surrounding Yemo-Manu (Twin and Man), are also born of plants: for example, Mashia and Mashiana or ALSO named in the Persian materials Mah and Mahranag (Mah means "moon" and mahranag means lunatic). After Yemo dies, is killed, is sacrificed, and is the first to open up the postmortem underworld, the Vedic Manu, Persian Manu, German Mannus, and the Roman Romulus become the origin of what follows.
What won't work in Rydberg is his attempt to make Tuisto = Thor on the basis of a demonstrably wrong etymology of tuisto from tivi with the construal that tivi = Odin. That bit is what will not hold up at all.
Now, the ruler before Yima/Jimshid, is Hoshang (the bringer of culture in the Perisan Shahnama and in the Avesta, his Vedic counterpart is Agni under another name where Agni is also Rig, as in Rgveda). This needs looked at more closely.
Re: World Mill and Pole Star Shift
Hamlet's Mill and Controversy: let me begin by naming two factors, (1)
excessive specialization, (2) academic turf wars.
But more deeply, (1) I think there are numerous archaeological sites with
astronomical alignments that display a knowledge of precession before
But even if the meaning of the "alleged" astronomical alignments of
these sites are disputed, the following considerations should put the nail
in the coffin of Hipparchus discovered precession. In this I am borrowing
from an astronomer who disputed Ulansey's thesis about the origin of the
Mithraic Mysteries to the extent it depended on the thesis that "Hipparchus
was the discoverer of precession".[I was at the AAR meeting, Pacific Division, where
Ulansey was featured, there is more but I will keep it short).
Here is the argument against that (thus, contra, precession had to be known way before Hipparchus) Hipparchus could not have been "the discoverer" of precession.
First, in order to realize a phenomenon is cyclical, the fact that it repeats has to be observed. It has to be observed more than once to know it is a cycle. Once a cycle is observed, it can be calculated and predicted. A person could do this in their own lifetime for a phenomenon that repeats itself in their own lifetime, say, the lunar cycle. But it must be observed as something cyclical to even get the idea that it is not a one time quirk.
Second, some cycles take 1000s of years. No one human could observe the phenomenon and observationally know that they were looking at a cycle. If you saw the transition from quarter moon (by analogy, shift from one pole star to another) to the half moon, you would not known you were looking at a cycle. You would have to see the whole cycle (new moon to new moon) to even have a clue it was a cycle. So, no one person could have discovered precession. The discovery, just on logic alone, had to be the accumulated discovery of untold generations _recording_ the shift.
Third, Hipparchus indicates he relied upon astronomical observational data. He didn't live long enough to observe precession (the great year) was cyclical! Rather, if you read the Greek closer, he relied upon observational data to "discover" the formula to calculate and predict precession. That was the Greek genius. A parallel example, geometry. The Greeks claimed Euclid "discovered" it. No, he axiomatized it.
So, precession had to have been known for ages untold, recorded, in order for Hipparchus to have "discovered" it (i.e., calculate and mathematically, predict it).
Re: Lodur, Heimdall, Mundilfore (Brief Synopsis of VR)
See comments interspersed below -- I snip out parts indicated by [snip}
Rydberg (in essence) supports the first two conclusions. He identifies
Heimdall’s mothers as the giantesses who spin the world-mill,
and then identifies the conductor of the world-mill as his father.
iffy but worth follow up.
(2) Rydberg agrees that Mundilfori was probably Heimdall’s father, after
identifying Heimdall as Scef, who came across the sea as a baby in a boat
(several Anglo-Saxon sources; see Scyld and Scef: Expanding the Analogs by
Alexander Bruce, 2002).
The problem with Agni is father and self-fathering.
The anthropomorphous Vana-god Heimdall was by Vana-gods sent as a child to the
primeval Teutonic country. As the first patriarch, he is identical with
Scef-Rig, the Scyld of the Beowulf poem, that he becomes the father of the other
original patriarch Skjold, and the grandfather of Halfdan. \C2 Thus, Mundilfori,
father of Heimdall is Lodur, Odin’s brother, aka Vili.
VR makes extensive parallels between Agni and Heimdall in chapter 82 to support
this theory. Personally, I’d like to hear you comments on that analogy.
I think the Agni-Heimdall parallels are sound. The father issue is unclear in
either case, Agni or Heimdall.
I am curious what evidence and argument the grad student used to support his or
her conclusion that Mundilfori had a ninefold spouse connected with fate and the
transition of world-ages.
On IE evidence, the world mill grinds out fate. The owner may be a goddess and
the executor is male?? In Vedic terms, jivas have free-will but they have karma.
Aditi or goddesses associated with her or who are aspects of her are the Vedic
version of Karma/Fate. The golden egg, hiranyagharbha, is said to be the egg of
fate and phases of time. So, the owner of the mill is a goddess who is, (1)
ancestor to gods and men, (2) fate.
I would immediately raise the parallel of the trio Odin, Hoenir and Lodur (the
creation myth) \C2 and Odin, Hoenir and Loki (Haustlong and the story of Regin).
If the grad student was correct, this would mean that Heimdall and Loki were
No, this would only be the case if Lodur = Loki, which some scholars make the
claim for -- I find it implausible. In my mind, Loki is not Lodur. Remember, the
idea of the devil came from IE sources, not Judeo-Christian ones -- they got it
from the Zoroastrians.
In the lore, they are bitter enemies. I suppose, they could have been set up as
antagonists in the parallel trios.
As you know, several scholars have concluded that Lodur and Loki were identical
based on these parallels. I do not.
We are agreed.
I believe that Lodur disappeared (probably becoming an exile, known to us as
Surt) and was “replaced” by Loki, who had a similar nature.
How so? I don't see this scheme.
We are told in Lokasenna 9, that Loki is Odin’s blood-brother which explains
What about it being a Christian sabotage interjection?
Odin’s blood-brother replaces his real brother in the traveling trio of
creator gods. \C2 Thus Lodur and Loki are parallel (but not identical) figures,
both with a fiery nature.
On the basis of my last question, the traditions became confused.
CX (correct me if I am wrong) has suggested that Borr is perhaps identical
with the world-tree itself. I vaguely recall reading scholarship that supported
a similar conclusion. Dronke supports the idea that Heimdall is the world-tree.
Then Borr is the consort of Urd, Borr is Heimdall, and Borr is Mimir, would be
Another problem, is the identity of Bestla. I have come to believe that she is
identical to Urd, or if not she is likely Nidhad-Mimir’ s wife (Sinmara). If
the latter is the case, then Urd is Mimir’s daughter and Odin’s half-sister
(daughter of Mimir and Bestla), which would lend meaning to Havamal 165 where
Odin says he would not share his knowledge with any maiden but the one who lays
in his arms (Jord-Frigg) or his sister (Urd).
I'll ponder this more. But I'd say Urd is the "owner" of the world mill.
Of course, these last theories are all speculative and built on a single verse
or series of circumstantial evidence. I cannot say I believe them, simply that
they are unproveable possibilities.
I was still a student but working on late Neoplatonist theories of the Dionysian
and Orphic Mysteries where the Vedic Agni and Vayu appear to be combined into
one figure, Eros, (Phanes, Protogonas). He and I discussed a text on zoe vs bios
relative to Dionysos within this scheme. Anyway, if I remember correctly, in
Hamlet's Mill, they argue that the ancients would speak of the flat earth as a
plane even though they knew it was a sphere because the "flat earth" was the
entire plane of the solar system. Of course, they were mostly\C2 operating on a
geocentric model, but, in light of Cruttenden's thesis, the old theory of
precession vis a vis the flat plane/earth would mean the entire solar system
shifted with the wobble. So, precession might have become a bigger puzzle after
Copernicus than it was before because on the Ptolemaic model and if the Hamlet
Mill thesis that the flat earth is the plane of the entire solar system is
correct, it would be the whole
solar system that shifted its axis relative to the celestial north.
Lodur and Lother: Comments
Comments on the variant story of Lother found by J.R.R. Tolkien.
In the Annales Ryenses and Saxo Grammatics' Gesta Danorum (Book 1) Skjold, that is Scyld, is preceded by a king named Lother. Saxo relates that King Dan left two sons behind, Humbli and Lother. Then:
Humbli was elected king at his father's death, thus winning a novel favour from his country; but by the malice of ensuing fate he fell from a king into a common man. For he was taken by Lother in war, and bought his life by yielding up his crown; such, in truth, were the only terms of escape offered him in his defeat. Forced, therefore, by the injustice of a brother to lay down his sovereignty, he furnished the lesson to mankind, that there is less safety, though more pomp, in the palace than in the cottage. Also, he bore his wrong so meekly that he seemed to rejoice at his loss of title as though it were a blessing; and I think he had a shrewd sense of the quality of a king's estate. But Lother played the king as insupportably as he had played the soldier, inaugurating his reign straightway with arrogance and crime; for he counted it uprightness to strip all the most eminent of life or goods, and to clear his country of its loyal citizens, thinking all his equals in birth his rivals for the crown. He was soon chastised for his wickedness; for he met his end in an insurrection of his country; which had once bestowed on him his kingdom, and now bereft him of his life.
Saxo then turns to Lother's son Skjold. That Lother seems in this account to have been killed immediately may be compression of a longer narrative. J.R.R. Tolkien in his Finn and Hengest (p. 58) provides a variant version found in the Scondia Illustrata by Johannes Messenius (Stockholm, 1700) which likely relies on lost sources rather than on Messenius' poor memory. Tolkien translates from Messenius' Latin:
... therefore Lotherus, King of the Danes, bereft of his wealth because of his excessive tyranny, and defeated, fled into Jutia (Jutland).
Tolkien points out that Beowulf was unknown at the time and so could not have influenced Messenius to imagine Lother fleeing to Jutland. The story then becomes quite strange. The king placed on the Danish throne in place of Lotherus is Balder. Lother returns from exile, kills Balder and then is himself killed by Othinn. Lother might also be identical with the puzzling god Lodur. Commentators sometimes suggest Lodur is identical to Loki, and of course in the Icelandic texts that have come down to us it is Loki who is Balder's real slayer, with Hod/Hother being only a tool in Loki's plot.
Baldr: Lindow-Oosten Theory
This is cut and pasted from various sources on the latest on Baldr: the Lindow Hypothesis
Against the “peaceful” god of Snorri and “western Norse sources”, Baldr in other accounts – “eastern Norse sources”, as Turville Petrie (1964, 112-116) frames the discussion and other scholars have noted and discussed for quite a while, Baldr is a bit of a “punk and lustful warrior figure who is impulsive”, such as found in Saxo below. John Lindow’s Murder and Vengeance among the Gods: Baldr in Scandinavian Mythology (Helsinki, 1997) analyzes the myths of Baldr as the mythic working out of the unresolvable problem of slaying within a family in the context of a society based on honor (saving face, wergild, similar to Samurai Japan) that uses blood feud to resolve disputes. In what looks like a completely separate line of research that reinforces Lindow’s hypothesis, the same fatal dilemma and flaw in how the aesir set up the cosmos in dealing with maternal ancestors and relatives is the main point of and upshot of Jarich Oosten’s The War of the Gods: The Social Code in Indo-European Mythology (London, 1985).
Saxo with interpretation in light of the other sources on Baldr below in light of the Lindow hypothesis.
 Interfecto ab Helgone Hodbroddo, filius Hotherus sub tutela Gevari regis pueritiae procursum exegit.  Adolescens collacteis ac coaevis summa corporis firmitate praestabat.  Ceterum ingenium eius crebrae dotaverant artes.  Quippe natationis, arcus caestuumque peritia nec non, quantamcumque ea aetas capere poterat, agilitate pollebat, haud minus exercitio quam viribus potens.  Immaturam adhuc aetatem uberrimis animi beneficiis transscendebat.  Nemo illo chelis aut lyrae scientior fuerat.  Praeterea sistro ac barbito omnique fidium modulatione callebat.  Ad quoscumque volebat motus, variis modorum generibus humanos impellebat affectus: gaudio, maestitia, miseratione vel odio mortales afficere noverat.  Ita aurium voluptate aut horrore animos implicare solebat.
 Tot iuvenis artibus Gevari filia Nanna admodum delectata amplexum eius expetere coepit.  Fit enim, ut virtute iuvenum virgines incalescant et, quorum minus complacet forma, probitas acceptetur.  Multiplices enim amor aditus habet: aliis oris decor, aliis animi virtus, quibusdam artium usus voluptatis iter aperit; nonnullis comitas Veneris copiam parat, complures formae candor acceptos facit, nec levius vulnus fortes quam pulchri puellis infligere solent.
 Accidit autem, ut Othini filius Balderus Nannae corpus abluentis aspectu sollicitatus infinito amore corriperetur.  Urebat illum venustissimi corporis nitor, animumque perspicuae pulchritudinis habitus inflammabat.  Validissimum namque libidinis irritamentum est decor.  Hotherum itaque, per quem maxime votum interpellandum timebat, ferro tollere constituit, ne morae impatiens amor ullo fruendae libidinis obstaculo tardaretur.
 Eodem forte tempore Hotherus inter venandum errore nebulae perductus in quoddam silvestrium virginum conclave incidit, a quibus proprio nomine salutatus, quaenam essent, perquirit.  Illae suis ductibus auspiciisque maxime bellorum fortunam gubernari testantur.  Saepe enim se nemini conspicuas proeliis interesse, clandestinisque subsidiis optatos amicis praebere successus.  Quippe conciliare prospera, adversa infligere posse pro libito memorabant, adiecto, qualiter in collacteam eius Nannam inter lavandum conspectam Balderus exarserit, hortataeque, ne eum quamvis infestissimo odio dignum armis lacesseret, semideum hunc esse testantes arcano superum semine procreatum.  His acceptis, Hotherus labentis hospitii tegmine defectus sub dio se relictum totiusque expertem umbraculi mediis repente campis expositum conspicatur.  Praecipue vero puellarum praepetem fugam locique versilem situm ac fallacem aedis imaginem mirabatur.  Ignorabat enim, quae circa se gesta fuerant, ludibrium tantum inaneque praestigiosarum artium exstitisse commentum.
 Unde rediens Gevaro ordinem insecutae errorem suum ludificationis exponit filiamque eius continuo postulavit.  Cui Gevarus quam libentissime se fauturum subiunxit, ni balderi iram repulsa contracturum metueret, priorem illum sibi consentaneas preces porrexisse testatus.  Nam ne ferro quidem sacram corporis eius firmitatem cedere perhibebat.  Adiecit tamen scire se gladium artissimis obseratum claustris, quo fatum ei infligi possit.  Hunc a Mimingo silvarum Satyro possideri.  Eidem quoque armillam esse mira quadam arcanaque virtute possessoris opes augere solitam.  Horum praeterea locorum aditum invium ac impedimentis offusum haud facile mortalibus patere posse.  Maiorem siquidem itineris partem inusitati frigoris vi perenniter obsideri.  Iubet itaque, cervis iugalibus currum instruat, cuius celeritate eximio gelu rigentia iuga transscendat.  Quo cum pervenerit, tabernaculum suum ita a sole aversum constituat, ut umbram specus, cui Mimingus assuevisset, excipiat, nec ipsum mutua tamen obumbratione contingat, ne Satyrum insolitae obscuritatis iactus exitu deturbaret.  Ita armillam ensemque in expedito fore, quorum alterum opum, alterum belli fortuna comitaretur; in utroque ingens possessori praemium esse.
 Hactenus Gevarus.  Nec inerter Hotherus, quae ab ipso didicerat, exsecutus, tabernaculo ad praedictum modum locato, noctu curas, interdiu venationes agebat.  Utramque temporis vicem pervigil exsomnisque ducebat, ita discrimina lucis nostisque partitus, ut hanc rerum meditationi tribueret, illam convectandis corporis alimentis impenderet.  Cumque forte pernox attonita curis mente languesceret, obumbrantem tabernaculo suo Satyrum hasta petivit obrutumque ictu nec satis fugae potentem vinculis intercepit.  Ultima deinde per summam verborum atrocitatem minatus, ensem armillamque deposcit.  Nec segniter Satyrus salutis redemptionem, quae ab ipso petebatur, exhibuit.  Adeo cunctis re prior est vita, cum nihil apud mortales spiritu carius exsistere soleat.  Høtherus opum ademptione laetatus patriam repetit, paucis sed insignibus spoliis felix.
 Quibus eum Gelderus Saxoniae rex potitum comperiens milites in tam illustris praedae raptum crebro concitabat hortatu.  Paruit iuventus regi, properanter instruens classem.  Quod praevidens Gevarus, quippe divinandi doctissimus erat industriaque praesagiorum excultus, vocato Høthero iubet, congressuri secum Gelderi iacula patienter excipiat, non ante sua remissurus, quam hostem missilibus carere conspiciat; ceterum rostratas admoveat falces, quibus navigia lacerari cassidesque et scuta militibus detrahi possint.  Cuius consilio obsecutus Høtherus salutarem eius exitum expertus est.  Siquidem ad primos Gelderi impetus subsistere suos ac corpora scutis protegere iubet, praesentis pugnae victoriam patientia capessendam testatus.  At hostis, missilibus nulla ex parte cohibitis iisdemque per summam pugnandi cupiditatem effusis, hoc avidius hastas ac spicula torquere coepit, quo Høtherum in his excipiendis patientius se gerere comperit.  Quae partim scutis, partim navigiis infixa rarum dedere vulnus, complura innoxia ac frustra videbantur excussa.  Siquidem Høtheri milites regis imperium exsequentes receptam telorum vim conserta clipeorum testudine repellebant, nec rarus quidem eorum numerus erat, quae levi ictu umbonibus impacta fluctibus incidebant.  Quorum omnium copia vacuefactus Gelderus, dum eadem ab hostibus correpta alacrius in se retorqueri conspiceret, mali cacumen puniceo scuto complexus (indicium id pacis erat) saluti deditione consuluit.  Quem Høtherus amicissimo vultu benignissimoque sermone exceptum non minus humanitate quam arte perdomuit.
 Ea tempestate Helgo Halogiae rex Gusonis Finnorum Byarmorumque principis filiam nomine Thoram crebrae legationis officio procabatur.  Adeo, quod per se minus validum est, alieni indigum noscitur.  Nam cum eius temporis iuvenes matrimonii postulationem propria voce prosequendi consuetudinem haberent, hic tanto oris vitio obsitus erat, ut non solum exteras, sed etiam domesticas aures erubesceret.  Adeo calamitas omnis conscios vitat.  Eo siquidem naturae damna molestiora sunt, quo liquidius patent.  Huius Guso legatione spreta coniugio indignum respondit, qui propria parum virtute subnixus ad id impetrandum precaria mutuaretur officia.  Quod audiens Helgo Høtherum, quem politioris facundiae noverat, suis favere studiis obsecrabat, alacriter se, quicquid is imperasset, exsecuturum pollicitus.  Ille sedula iuvenis supplicatione devictus armata classe Norvagiam petit, quod verbis non posset, viribus peracturus.  Cumque pro Helgone per summam eloquii suavitatem egisset, refert Guso mentem filiae consulendam, ne quid contra nolentem paterna videretur severitate praesumptum.  Accersitamque, an proco allubesceret, percontatus annuentis Helgoni nuptias pollicetur.  Igitur Hoetherus obseratas Gusonis aures ad ea, quae precabatur, exaudienda rotundae volubilisque facundiae dulcedine patefecit.
 Quae dum in Halogia geruntur, Balderus postulandae Nannae gratia Gevari fines armatus ingreditur.  A quo cum ipsius Nannae mentem cognoscere iuberetur, exquisitis verborum delenimentis puellam aggressus, cum nullum votis locum efficere potuisset, repulsae causam cognoscere institit.  Quae respondit nuptiis deum mortali sociari non posse, quod ingens naturae discrimen copulae commercium tollat.  Sed et superos interdum pacta rescindere solitos, subitoque vinculum disici, quod impares contraxissent.  Neque enim stabilem dissonis esse nexum, cum apud excelsos humilium semper fortuna sordescat.  Praeterea abundantiae et egestatis dividuum contubernium esse, nec inter splendidas opes obscuramque pauperiem firma societatis iura consistere.  Ad ultimum supernis terrestria non iugari, quae tanto originis intervallo discors rerum natura secreverit, quod a divinae luculentia maiestatis infinitum distet humana mortalitas.  Hac responsi cavillatione, elusis Balderi precibus, detrectandi coniugii prudens argumenta texebat.
 Quod cum Høtherus ex Gevaro cognosceret, multa super Balderi petulantia apud Helgonem querulus disserebat.  Incerti ambo, quid facto opus esset, variis sententiam consiliis agitabant.  Amica siquidem in adversis collocutio, tametsi periculum non tollit, aegritudinem minuit.  Inter cetera animi vota fortitudinis studio praeponderante, manus classe cum Baldero conseritur.  Hominibus adversum deos certatum cerneres.  Nam Baldero Othinus ac Thoro sacraque deum agmina propugnabant.  Divinis humanisque viribus permixtum aspiceres bellum.  At Hoetherus tunica ferrum spernente succinctus consertissimos deorum cuneos irrumpebat et, quantum terrenus in superna poterat, grassabatur.  Sed et Thoro inusitato clavae libratu cuncta clipeorum obstacula lacerabat, tantum ad se incessendum hostes invitans quantum socios ad tuendum.  Nullum erat armaturae genus, quod impellenti non cederet.  Nemo ferientem tuto excipere poterat.  Quicquid ictu urgebat, obruit.  Non clipei, non cassides impactum pertulere robur.  Nulli corporis aut virium magnitudo subsidio fuit.  Proinde victoria ad superos concessisset, ni Høtherus, inclinata suorum acie, celerius advolans clavam praeciso manubrio inutilem reddidisset.  Quo telo defecti divi subitam dedere fugam.  Inimicum opinioni esset, nisi fidem antiquitas faceret, deos ab hominibus superari.  Deos autem potius opinative quam naturaliter dicimus; talibus namque non natura, sed gentium more divinitatis vocabulum damus.
 Ceterum Balderum fuga cursu quaesita servavit.  Cuius navigiis victores aut ferro laceratis aut fluctu obrutis, non contenti deos vicisse, classis reliquias saevitia insequuntur, earum iactura funestam belli cupidinem expleturi.  Adeo plerumque insolentiam successus exasperat.  testis belli portus Balderi fugam vocabulo refert.  Gelderum quoque Saxoniae regem eodem consumptum bello remigum suorum cadaveribus superiectum ac rogo navigiis exstructo impositum pulcherrimo funeris obsequio extulit.  Cineres eius perinde ac regii corporis reliquias non solum insigni tumulo tradidit, verum etiam plenis venerationis exsequiis decoravit.  Post haec, ne connubii spem ulterior rerum importunitas moraretur, repetito Gevaro, cupitis Nannae complexibus fruitur.  Deinde Helgonem ac Thoram plenis liberalitatis officiis prosecutus novam Suetiae nuptam advexit, cunctis tam venerabilis victoria quam Balderus ridiculus fuga.
 Quo tempore cum Sueonum magnates solvendi tributi gratia Daniam petivissent, ob egregia patris merita a popularibus loco regio cultus fallax fortunae lenocinium expertus est: siquidem a Baldero, quem paulo ante devicerat, proelio superatus ad Gevarum decurrere necesse habuit, victoria post regnum amissa, quam privatus adeptus fuerat.  Victor Balderus, ut afflictum siti militem opportuno liquoris beneficio recrearet, novos humi latices terram altius rimatus aperuit.  Quorum erumpentes scatebras sitibundum agmen hianti passim ore captabat.  Eorundem vestigia sempiterno firmata vocabulo, quamquam pristina admodum scaturigo desierit, nondum prorsus exolevisse creduntur.  Idem larvarum Nannae speciem simulantium continua noctibus irritamenta perpessus adeo in adversam corporis valetudinem incidit, ut ne pedibus quidem incedere posset.  Quamobrem biga redave emetiendorum itinerum consuetudinem habere coepit.  Tanta amoris vi suffusum pectus ad extremam paene eum tabem redegerat.  Nihil enim sibi victoriam dedisse credidit, cuius Nanna praeda non fuerit.
 Frø quoque deorum satrapa sedem haud procul Upsala cepit, ubi veterem litationis morem tot gentibus ac saeculis usurpatum tristi infandoque piaculo mutavit.  Siquidem humani generis hostias mactare aggressus foeda superis libamenta persolvit.
From the Húsdrápa of Úlfr Uggason, a skaldic ekphrasis of carvings inside a building in western Iceland from circa 985, five stanzas survive dealing with Baldr's funeral. A stanza of Kormákr Ǫgmundarson (Icelandic, tenth century) says that Óðinn used magic on Rindr, a reference to his siring of the avenger Váli.
Saxo's version is set in Danish prehistory. Høtherus and Balderus, son of Odin and a demigod, vie to rule Denmark and to marry Nanna, the foster-sister of Høtherus. In the last of a series of battles, Høtherus finally kills Balderus with an ordinary weapon. Othinus learns through prophecy that he can sire an avenger with Rinda, a Rostaphian princess. After failing to win the girl in various guises, he returns dressed as a woman, and when she falls ill he is to treat her. He binds her to her bed and rapes her. The avenger, Bous, kills Høtherus and himself dies a day later. For his shameful acts the gods exile Othinus from Byzantium for almost ten years.
All the sources stress that Baldr is Óðinn's son, that he dies, and that he is avenged. Baldr's return is found only in Vǫluspá and Snorri's Edda. These facts subvert the older interpretations, such as those of James Frazer or Gustav Neckel, of Baldr as a dying god like Baal or Tammuz, one whose regular resurrection is associated with annual cycles of fertility. The emphasis on vengeance makes it clear that Baldr is far more than a Nordic adaptation of Christ (Bugge).
In Vǫluspá and Snorri's Edda, the death of Baldr leads directly to Ragnarǫk, and even in Saxo there is a sea battle in which Høtherus defeats all the gods, although it occurs before Baldr's death. Given the emphasis in Vǫluspá's description of Ragnarǫk as a time when brother kills brother, murderers are about, and oaths are broken, Baldr's death can easily be read in that poem as the beginning of Ragnarǫk. Baldr's is the first death of a god, and since the cosmos was created with the body of a murdered giant, this killing upsets the usual order of the mythology. The hierarchical superiority of the gods over the giants ends, and the two groups destroy each other. The ensuing world order brings peace, and Baldr and Hǫðr are reunited.
In the Scandinavian context, the accounts that make Baldr and Hǫðr brothers indicate a flaw in the system of blood feud (Lindow, 1997), for when Óðinn sires an avenger, the vengeance he takes still leaves Óðinn with an unavenged son, now Hǫðr. A killing within a family poses an insurmountable problem in such a system, and since the gods created the cosmos by killing a maternal relative, this problem was present from the beginning. The gods' solution was to deny maternal kinship relations, but that denial ultimately fails. So too does Óðinn's attempt to counter Loki's giant patrimony by swearing blood brotherhood with him. Only destruction of Óðinn’s flawed order can resolve this problem, and it does so by reuniting Baldr and Hǫðr in a new world order after Ragnarok.
Oosten Quote on Structural Conflict of Germanic Myth
The ancient myths reveal the structure of a pantheon that did not represent a state, or a kingdom, but a family, ruled by a father god. Relations between different groups of gods were based on kinship…Conflicts between these groups of gods are…to be interpreted in terms of structural conflicts between different principles of kinship in the social organization of Indo-European society…The myths remained basically the same for centuries but their interpretation changed. The ancient wars between the gods were transformed into cosmic struggles between the forces of good and evil, instead of a…conflict between kinsmen. This tendency was was most clearly expressed in ancient Perisan religion, where the opposition between Devas and Asuras constituted the basis for a cosmic dualism of evil and good. It is interesting to note that the conscious model of the pantheon (good gods versus evil monsters) as it was developed in accordance with ethical and moral values seems to invert the original mythical structure…[in that older order, the devas and Aesir defeat their kin rivals] by deceit and trickery. The gods usually usurped power by deposing and exterminating their predecessors, who were in fact their senior kinsmen. If we [as in the fashion of Persian religion] attribute…moral connotations to the myths, the gods and not their predecessors are the evil-doers. Parricide, incest and other crimes are often committed by the gods, and the myths pass no moral judgment upon them. The parties in the war between the gods did not represent powers of good and evil,…but different categories in kinship…neutral in moral terms.…The structure of the myths was determined by relationship between different kin-groups (paternal relatives, maternal relatives, affines).(1985, 164-165).
Oosten then goes to show the kinship conflicts that structure Germanic mythology in terms of relations with ancestors and maternal relatives when point of honor and blood feud are the mechanisms of conflict resolution.
Re: Baldr: Lindow-Oosten Theory
I'm just quoting an original source and prominent scholars' views on the meaning of those primary sources. Is the fundamentalist coming out again? "Don't slander my Jesus, oops, Baldr"!
Research Methods/was Re: Baldr: Lindow-Oosten Theory
>> Many scholars place great weight on a fairly literal reading of the >> Baldur story in Saxo Book 3. It's unfortunate in my opinion, but it is
WX, the first step in professional close reading is to read a text more literally than a normal reader would. That skill has to be mastered in order for the other research methods to work. What some might consider excessive literalism is the very thing that critically cross-examines a text in order to do anything else with it in terms of analysis other than read it.
Professional reading is to read literally, very, very literally. It is similar to interrogation and cross-examination in law.
The first aspect of training a professional scholar is close analytical reading is to read a text very, very, literally. This is a really difficult skill to learn for some because it involves going against the grain of our normal reading habits. Our normal reading habits tend not to focus literally on the actual text but to “parse” it into meaningful wholes. A simple example is we can often recall what a person said (in terms of their meaning) but not verbatim what the exact words were (this is partly due to the structure and nature of our long-term memory which stores information in terms of categories and meaning units.). So, the first step in professional academic close-reading is learning to read more literally than is normal.
When dealing with religious texts or texts that someone holds to be “sacred”, this skill of reading very literally can upset religious scruples. Fundamentalists think they read closely but they also parse the text in terms of their flavor of theology. They become upset when the text literally says something contrary to their parsing habits. For example, without getting into the issue of the conflicts in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, just a close literal reading of the English New Testament detects and makes note of differences and contradictions that a normal reader would miss, and especially, a reader with religious lenses who expects no contradictions in Holy Writ and is additionally upset when its pointed out. For example, the resurrection accounts in the gospels are contradictory. This is totally apart from all the problems that the history of the Greek manuscripts raise.
Once the skill of close literal reading is beginning to be mastered the professional begins to learn the other research methodologies. So, what are these methodologies?
The first is the techniques and subdisciplines serving textual criticism. It is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts. Ancient scribes often made errors or alterations when copying manuscripts by hand. Given a manuscript copy, several or many copies, but not the original document, the textual critic seeks to reconstruct the original text (the archetype or autograph) as closely as possible. The same processes can be used to attempt to reconstruct intermediate editions, or recensions, of a document's transcription history. The ultimate objective of the textual critic's work is the production of a "critical edition" containing a text most closely approximating the original. Now a problem with some texts is there may have been no such thing as an original edition or autograph. For example, while there may be an original edition or autograph of Paul’s Letter to the Romans, there is not an original edition or autograph of the New Testament as a whole because it is a collection of texts with very different histories of transmission. Another example, while there is an original text or autograph of Snorri, there is no such thing for Germanic mythology. So, for example, textual criticism determines which one of the following is likely correct or reconstructs what is probably to original version. This one -
«Hljóðs bið ek allar
meiri ok minni
viltu, at ek, Valföðr!
forn spjöll fíra,
þau er fremst um man.
or this one,
Hliods bið ec
meiri oc miNi
mavgo | heimdallar
vilðo at ec ualfa/þr
uel fyr telia
forn | spioll fíra
þa/ er fremst um man.
or this one,
Hlioðs bið ek allar
meiri ok minni
villtu at ek vafodrs
vel | fram telia
forn spiǫll fira
þau er ek fremz vm man.
Textual criticism also attempts to fill in lacuna. Thus –
Ginn loft yfer |
giǫrð iarðar . eð . .
. . . . . . g . ar
orms . . edvm
. . . oðins svn
uargs at . . . |
uiðars . . . . . .
Then, the next step is historical criticism: these are source criticism, redaction criticism, and form criticism.
Source criticism is analysis of a “received” text to determine the original sources behind it. Examples: the history of the synoptic problem of the synoptic gospels shows that Mark was written first, Matthew and Luke essentially cut and pasted whole sections of Mark with some editorial modifications (Luke knew Greek better and so he corrected Mark’s bad Greek, for example), further Matthew and Luke shared another source, Q, that has material not found in Mark, and finally, where Matthew and Luke diverge both from Mark and/or each other, they are adding their own material not drawn from their common sources of Mark or Q. Q was for long a hypothetical document (still is) but the hypothesis it once existed received support from the discovery of the Gospel of which is essentially Q material construed in Gnostic terms. Since its date is very early, there is low probability it borrows from Matthew and Luke (especially since the Luke we have now did not exist yet, it went through several versions with the last being someone in Polycarp’s camp – late). Another example of source criticism is our being able to reconstruct the work by Celsus against the Christians by the extensive quotes in Origen.
Redaction criticism is the close reading and analysis of a received text to detect authorial intent. Namely, it examines what how the author handled his or her sources, interpreted them, and edited them in creating their own text. Part of redaction criticism is also to see who the presupposed audience and historical context of a text is and the author’s relation to them. Example, later redactors “harmonized” New Testament texts both with each other (there is four or five versions of the Lord’s Prayer but later harmonizers picked one version and inserted in all gospels) and with developing theological doctrine (thus, variant readings that supported non-Nicene readings of Christ’s nature were redacted to conform to Nicene doctrine). By redaction criticism, we can see how Rome’s mythic materials were both historicized (the myths of the gods and creation of the world become legends of early heroes and the creation of the city) and making political comments about contemporary Roman politics vis a vis Caesar Augustus in the works of Livy. Using both part of textual criticism (linguistics) and redaction criticism, we can detect both the linguistic differences between an older and newer dialect of the same language and the theological motives behind differences between the Gathas and younger Avestan materials.
Form criticism is reconstructing oral traditions behind received texts. For example, form criticism helps uncover the bardic traditions behind Homer’s Illiad. Another example would be comparing Plato’s depiction of Socrates with what other contemporaries say about him to reconstruct a historical Socrates. Another example is reconstructing a posited original myth based on the variant versions of it in the received texts.
When we are dealing with a tradition where we have no direct texts (the people left nothing in their own words such as Germanic and Celtic heathens) all variant texts must be laid out side by side and given equal weight. The reconstructed myth may end up looking drastically different in some cases than what the preserved texts might suggest because the preserved texts are redactional texts. Imagine if the only thing we had to go on to reconstruct pagan sources was Tolkien’s trilogy! Sometimes we are very much in that position. We might be in that position, some scholars argue, with the Christian Snorri. Mere dogmatic assertion of opinion that Snorri is gospel won’t cut it. And some, who are not professionals, might wonder where in heck the scholars came up with such wacko ideas, especially the religious fundamentalists. Sometimes, we get confirmation that a reconstruction that seems to depart from the preserved texts is correct. One example of this is Central Asian Manichaeanism. Triangulating on Tantric Buddhist and Zoroastrian texts in light of what was known about western Manichaeanism, scholars hypothesized that eastern Manichaeanism softened the anti-cosmic dualism so characteristic of western Manichaeanism, and actually, developed a world-affirming orientation. Some objected this was just nuts and not supported by direct texts. Then we had a major discovery that was as significant, if not more, than the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls at Qumran and the Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi. We discovered the lost libraries of the cities in the Turfan Oasis in Central Asia. Not only are there many Buddhist texts, we discovered primary Manichaean texts which confirmed the reconstructed view. Bauer, for another example, painted a very different history of early Christianity than the received view (namely, a developing kernel of original orthodoxy fighting off later heresies) where the so-called “heretical” forms of Christianity were older, where earliest Christianity was widely diverse in belief and practice, and that “orthodoxy” was a later invention first as a political consolidation, and then, in a re-writing of early Christian history with the orthodox forces being written in as the sole and original form of Christianity. Later, when we began to recover lost texts, we had to affirm Bauer’s thesis was remarkably correct.
The reliability of these methodologies have been tested and confirmed. Examples are: scholars may detect in a text as “received” differences in language and tone usually missed by the normal parsing reader. They may them hypothesize that the author(s) of the received text was using two sources. Then manuscripts are found to confirm the two source theory. These methods in America are better known as methods in biblical textual criticism but they are also used in classics (so we can detect the different strands of bardic oral traditions behind Homer’s epics, for example) and literary studies (the manuscript history and evolution of a play by Shakespeare).
These methods have reliably revealed forgeries.
These methods are also used in intelligence analysis. The reliability of these methods received wonderful confirmation with the re-unification of Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union. As one who used to be what people call a “spook”, I was one of the ones that was able to test, verify, and confirm the reliability of these methodologies. Our analysis of information we had obtained in order to hypothesize what the East German Der Militärische Nachrichtendienst (Mil-ND) der DDR and Stasi knew about NATO had a high degree of confirmation when we gained access to the East German intelligence archives. So, these scholarly methods are not just patent nonsense that the untrained CX mistakenly thinks are used in academia to weave unsupported theories. There is a process of verification that tests the reliability of these methods and that is also why intelligence agencies employ them besides academic fields because the opportunities we’ve had to put these methods to the test showed them to be highly reliable and giving highly probable results.
Again, hypotheses generated by these kinds of close analytical reading strategies show a high rate of confirmation, in terms of their reliability, when new manuscripts are discovered, or, former intelligence archives of a former enemy are obtained (this happened not just with the collapse of the Soviet Union, but also, when the allies defeated Germany in world war 2 where the intelligence estimates were confirmed after the fact by the allies gaining access to Abwehr archives).
The other, more indirect route, that these reconstructions are tested is by the on-going critical debate and evaluation of a scholar's analysis, arguments for it in terms of evidence and why handle the evidence in the way he or she is handling it.
Another, and newer, field of application where these methods are used is in forensic security applications where the "pre-history" of a received "text" is reconstructed, and then, that helps orienting an investigation in terms of where and how to look as well as what to look for.
Surt/Allfather Re: Lodur, Heimdall, Mundilfore (Brief Synopsis of VR)
See below. I'll comment more later. But I have opportunity to do some replies
\C2 Hi ,
Here are my responses. Answer what you'd like, comment on what you wish. Do not
feel obligated to respond to all my questions.
>VR makes extensive parallels between Agni and Heimdall in chapter 82 to support
this theory. Personally, I’d like to hear you comments on that analogy.
I think the Agni-Heimdall parallels are sound. The father issue is unclear in
either case, Agni or Heimdall.
I agree (see above) on the Heimdall issue. I'm not knowledgable enough\C2 to
comment on Agni, but do take your word for it. You mentioned that VR conflated
aspects of Agni. How does that effect his\C2 comparison of the two gods in chapter
82 of UGM1? On which points is he wrong?\C2
I said VR conflated a couple of things. First, the distinction between celestial
and atmospheric. Thus, secondly, Vayu's (ex hypothesi, Odin's) status. Vayu is a
deva of the intermediate-atmospheric realm not the celestial. Now in terms of
Agni, VR is making a twofold analogy between
Agni = Heimdall (I have no problem there)
and building on that
Matarivan = Mundilfori (the implication being Matarisvan is Agni's father just
as, ex hypothesi, Mundifori is Heimdall's father and Mundilfori is also Lodur.
Matarisvan is an aspect of Agni himself. Agni can appear as two persons in one
place. He does so vis a vis Matarisvan in places. But it is clear this is two
ways of talking about Agni's action. Most of the Vedic myths portray Matarisvan
as something like the Greek Prometheus (without incurring the wrath of the gods)
in bringing fire (Agni) to humans. So, in the main story, Matarisvan is Agni in
that aspect that corresponds to Heimdall as Rig. He brings fire (and presumably
culture) to humans. The other aspect of Matarisvan's myth is that he is the
messenger (to humanity) of Vivasvat. Vivasvat is the celestial sun and also is
the father of Yama Vivasvant and Manu Vivasvant. They are the solar ancestors of
humans (as indicated earlier, humans have a double ancestry -- solar and lunar).
In terms of the name, Matarisvan means "risvan" or "born in" and "mata" or
"mother". So, Matarisvan means he who is born or developing in his mother(s).
So, where VR gets his discussion of Agni wrong is in trying to equate Matarisvan
to Mundilfori. Rather, Matarisvan equates better with Rig.
>On IE evidence, the world mill grinds out fate. The owner may be a goddess and
the executor is male?? In Vedic terms, jivas have free-will but they have karma.
Aditi or goddesses associated with her or who are aspects of her are the Vedic
version of Karma/Fate. The golden egg, hiranyagharbha, is said to be the egg of
fate and phases of time. So, the owner of the mill is a goddess who is, (1)
ancestor to gods and men, (2) fate.
Is this your original research? I'm surprised to hear\C2 you mention IE evidence
and the world-mill. I have been conditioned to believe that this theory is not
widely accepted. Very few Germanic scholars see a Mill in the Germanic sources
[Clive Tolley does; and then Ursula Dronke, but\C2 with great caution], and I know
of no IE scholars that do. I do not recall it in the works of Mallory/Adams or
West. Although, I did find supporting evidence in West, as I mentioned.
I think the controversy is whether the world mill shows an ancient knowledge of
precession. In Indic studies, the world mill as a motif is undeniable.
It is a central motif. First, it grounds out world ages (whether this is
anciently tied to precession is the controversial bit; is it ancient or is the
association of the world mill with precession a later development is the
question. Second, it makes soma-mead-ambrotas of the gods. Third, the demons,
devas, and asuras fight over its control for the above two reasons.
There are statues of this world mill. Again, whether or not the mill is
associated with precession is the controversy.
Below I indulge in a wild speculation about Surt based on what some have said
about the allfather.
Surt: a wild speculation. In Indian myth, world ages end by being destroyed by
fire. In later Hinduism, Siva is the destroyer. In the Brahmanas, if I remember
correctly, Agni takes on destroyer aspects in connection with his
identity?/relation? to Rohitas (a form of Rudra in other places, the wife of
Rudra in yet other places). The slash and question marks are I don't clearly
recall the details of Agni vis a vis Rohita vis a vis Rudra. Some scholars have
compared the Vedic Dyaus to the Roman Janus because he appears to be a god of
beginnings and endings but has no role to play in the middle (and thus, perhaps,
in the past, has been thought to have no mythology where actually his myth is to
begin, to end, and is not active in the middle of the story). Note that the
Roman title of address to Janus is Pater. When a world age is destroyed by
Agni-Rohita (keeping in mind the above hesitations), Dyaus reappears at the very
end to initiate a new one as its father. Note also that Dyaus is described as a
bull impregnating the mother goddess of all and she is the cow at the beginning
of time. Now speculating, The Prose Edda begins with a description of the
Allfather having existed at all times and forever. We also have that the
righteous will dwell in the highest heaven, Gimle, which will not be touched by
the world-destroying flames of Surt. Odin has not been around forever (he is the
third generation of gods) and dies at Ragnarok and won't be around forever. Some
scholars have argued that allfather is a Christian interjection. Others have
noted that the allfather seems to be a separate person and that when Snorri
later makes Odin allfather, there is a contradiction generated in the text.
These scholars note that Snorri's identification of Odin as allfather comes with
what appears to be a bit of
explanatory apologetic justifying this attribution as if it would not be
obvious or commonly accepted and thus required some justification. In the Poetic
Edda, we have the passage after Ragnarok that the greater one from on high is
coming. There are some that see the allfather at the beginning of the Prose Edda
as always around, but not part of the mythological action, and the power coming
at the end after Ragnarok in the Poetic Edda as (1) the same Janus-like figure
we see in Dyaus and (2) a figure different from Odin. I can't remeber the exact
bit but one little additional piece they make for this construction is something
about Buri's name (they are not identifying Buri and allfather). Anyway, if this
allfather reconstruction is sound, then maybe, and this last bit is just my wild
speculation (I've seen no one say this anywhere), Surt is not evil but has an
assigned role to play as world-age ender. Consider: in Indian materials, a world
age ends in
fire by a divine destroyer. At the beginning of an age and at the end of an
age, Dyaus shows up to give birth to a new age. Then, Dyaus drops out of the
picture as the mythic story unfolds. Speculative parallel: beginning of an age
Allfather is present. Then he plays no role in the drama. After Surt destroys a
world age. He reappears. We might be reading Surt too much in Christian terms.
Re: Surt/Allfather Re: Lodur, Heimdall, Mundilfore (Brief Synopsis of VR)
Here is a bit of follow-up from my wild speculation below. In the Prose Edda, it
is said that before the creation of things the Allfather was with the
rime-giants. Now, besides the elements, in IE myth the first entities that exist
after the Dyaus-allfather is Mother Cow and the Twins (yemo-manu, yama-manu,
yima-manu, remus-romulus, tuisco-mannus). Where are the twins in the Prose Edda
account? There is Ymir (which means twin by all reputable scholars) and there is
the Cow. There is also Buri. Buri, given the poetics of the line he is
mentioned, is where the assumption is that the name derives from burr (son).
Son? Of Who? Not Odin, Odin is his grandson. Allfather? He is the only one
mentioned as being with the rime-giants (who I take to include Ymir and Buri).
The argument that some scholars, following Dumezil's idea that Dyaus is a
"frame-god" instead of a "deus otisio" (thus as frame-god intentionally having
no part in the mythic drama rather than
deus otosi or forgotten myth-god), is that Ymir-Buri are the twins found at the
beginning of time with the Cow. This "corrects" Germanic myth and brings it in
line with IE.
Now, this follow up to this point has arguments others have made and I'm just
alluding to it for context. To continue my wild speculation about Surt. It is
also said in the Prose Edda that Surt is stationed in his position as
defender-guardian. Stationed? By who? Why? So he has a purpose?
Note: after the end of each world age, the game reappears in Vedic and Germanic
Re: Research Methods/was Re: Baldr: Lindow-Oosten Theory
I was going to reply to ZX later more fully but I will make a few observations here first.
There is a assumption running behind ZX's comments and yours that somehow scholars don't read the text before the try to tear it apart to reconstruct what was behind it. This is pure anti-intellectual prejudicial bull!
1. You would not even have Germanic texts to read without the work of scholars.
2. The very discovery of manuscripts, their preservation, making usable copies that won't
fall apart physically is the work scholars have done you you wouldn't even know Odin existed and you would have no original manuscripts. Some manuscripts are literally physically in pieces the size of a quarter and have to be put back together like a jigsaw. Sometimes multiple manuscripts are mixed up so that several texts are in a heap of paper scraps. The physically oldest NT manuscript is the size of a credit card and is from the 18th chapter of the gospel of John. Scholars have to have some intuitive sense of the whole, already at this stage, to physically piece the things together into a physically and textually coherent text. Their sense of the whole is both a physical one of how the pieces physically fit together like a jigsaw and the text forming coherent sentences.
3. Scholars have to read the story first for its own content and pay attention to the poetic metre first (so there has to be a bit of the poet in the specialists that do this particular work) in order to just restore one often physically damaged text with lacuna to a readable
text. Reconstruction at this level is restoring a damaged text and/or correcting copyist errors. So, scholars have to read a story and understand it better than untrained readers to even to deliver a useable and readable text in the original language. And we are not even talking about critical editions yet. At this phase, we are talking of restoring just one manuscript version of a text. Without an intuitive sense of the internal integrity of the story or poem and/or the author's personality and style, scholars would not be able to accomplish this and you would not have a text even in the original language.
4. Then, if there are variant manuscripts of the same text, a critical edition is made. Again, natural talent and intuition play a role but untrained it is imagination run amok rich in delusional associations. The methodologies are sobering reality checks against unrestrained intuitive leaps. Many critical editions give all known variants. So the complaint they don't is unfounded. And for those who can't read the original languages and have to read in translation, they can't do much real scholarly work because criticial editions are typically, as a standard, in the original language. Its only in the original language that one can detect the details of how the language works, how the author's style is suddenly a different style indicating a quote or citation (since they did not have footnotes or even punctuation or explicit citation convestions we invented later). Translations are usually hopeless because translation is always interpretation, and you have the translator's style and decisions between you and the original.
5. Source, redaction, and form criticism begins AFTER all this work and AFTER the story or contents of a single work is well conprehended on its own terms. So, the people you seem to be complaining spend too much time tearing the text apart are the very ones who spent most of their time having to understand it well enough as an intuitive whole to even give you a whole text and in translation. You can't even translate without some intuitive sense of the whole. It is not a verbatim process of transliteration. And it has to take a dedicated and lifelong love of the subject-matter to spend all this time and energy in recovering the past. So don't compare us to attorneys that mangle evidence.
Re: Research Methods/was Re: Baldr: Lindow-Oosten Theory
>>I think you've laid it out pretty clearly here, but this is precisely
the limitation of a scholarly approach in my opinion.
>>A close and careful reading is always important, but to get too
literal is to neglect the actual job of reading, which requires
interpretation, being able to read between the lines, being able to
discern patterns and connections between the text and other texts.
Look at my reply to WX and you on this topic today. It is not a limitation.
It is a constraint on unbridled imagination. The same scholars
who learn to read super literally are the very same ones who restore
the texts into a whole condition otherwise YOU would have ZERO knowledge that
Vikings let alone viking religion even existed. It is a case of less is more.
A literal reading is only one of many ways of analyzing texts, and
historically, a pretty recent phenomenon.
And what other ways, specifically, have you in mind. And it is not a recent
phenomenon. The ancient Greeks invented the methods to begin to produce standard
editions of ancient works in the ancient world since a 1000 or so years of
hand-copying (before the printing press) created just by mistakes in copying
variant texts. And it is a historical method to restore the lost and forgotten
past. Again, without it, you wouldn't even have a translated copy of the Poetic
Edda or Prose Edda nor even a reliable history of the American Revolution. Not
all cultures take an interest in the past. If you believe your culture is the
ageless and eternal law delivered by the gods, the NOW's compliance to that
divine pattern is all that matters, not the past, not other cultures. This is
sort of a cultural religious ethnocentrism; the historical version of being in
the center of it all like the religious reasons for geocentricism
astronomically. By contrast, our culture is interested in other cultures, and
hence, the past. So, aside from the Greeks, Byzantines, late Medieval,
Renaissance and modern periods using these same methods, their apparent
recentness is due to a prior historical interest in other times and places and
in recovering and restoring knowledge of them. Again, without scholarship being
a massive restoration and reclamation project FIRST, there would be no critical
historical reconstructive studies and no texts for you to read. Too often, I
encounter people who have a anti-intellectual bias because they think our
readings of texts (that they forget we restored and made whole in the first
place and that they would not otherwise even have any clue as to the existence
of them) is tearing them to bits and we have no understanding of them. Its like
people who have this habitual and emotional disconnect between their chicken
McNuggets or Hamburger and the farm and butchering of chickens and animals
behind it. Its like people who like to eat meat and condemn hunting.
Our critical reading of texts is just the last phase and tip of an iceberg.
Especially American nonintellectuals typically fail to appreciate that and only
complain about the tip of the iceberg. They have an emotional disconnect between
seeing what scholars critically do with texts (once restored) and don't like it
and think scholars distort and seeing that there would be no texts at all if it
were for those same scholars and that it takes a profound understanding of those
texts on their own terms in order to restore them. Our critical reading
presupposes we get it and often get it better than amateurs. But due to their
emotional and cognitive disconnect, amateurs do not see the connection between
their meat and killing or scholars critical reading and the fact it is they who
retrieved, restored, and had to understand the texts on their own terms first in
order for amateurs to even have texts. If you don't like what scholars do to
texts, destroy your translations (scholarly products), your references
(scholarly products), your
secondary sources (scholarly products), and even your original language
editions (scholarly products).
Go back to being ignorant of there even being a Germanic heathenism and go back
to making accidental discoveries of manuscripts in various states of decay OR
appreciate the fact that your perception that scholars are logic choppers that
tear up texts is a disconnect because its the same people that resurrect these
texts and give them life again.
I was here in '92 when that Simi Valley jury acquitted those police
officers. Everyone knew they were guilty as hell. As I've told many
people, the lawyers convinced the jury that they had to consider only
the pixel-by-pixel, frame-by-frame analysis they did, and somehow
convinced them that what we all saw didn't really happen!
Under our system of innocent until proven guilty that is what lawyers are
supposed to do. Its not popular but our system would rather let a guilty party
free than send an innocent person to jail or death. I've lived in other
countries where guilt is presumed and the defendant is presumed guilty and I've
lived in countries where there is no legal system, the people just "knew" the
party was guilty, and there was a lynch-mob. Later, they would discover they
were wrong. Americans just don't like disciplined thinking. They barely master
their own English language (I know, I encounter the lack in college), they don't
like math, they don't like science because its too hard, and then they complain
that foreigners are taking all the high-tech jobs. Literalism, in the sense I
mean it, is a discipline against the grain of letting imagination run wild.
Otherwise, you end up with the fantasies of Guido Liszt.
approach, getting so bogged down in the details that it forgets the
forest for the trees.
Most American readers in college I'm encountering these days pay NO attention to
details and thus don't even know there is a forest. In fact, 75% of college
students have never read a book these days. It is a strain on them to read
something longer than a text message. I'm talking about actual sweating and
stressing over a sentence and sounding out the words.
They then complain they paid tution money and the degree is their right so why
do they have to do the work. Unfortunately, there are schools that cave in to
that demand and then their graduates complain they can't get a job because they
went through college and are effectively illiterate.
We get letters of application in text messaging format and the emoticons from
email. Anyway, back to the topic, without the scholars methods, you wouldn't
have forests let alone trees.
Anyone who can convince themselves that
something that clearly happened didn't happen just because they're
looking at things through a limited, literal lens is delusional.
Nope, my experience is the opposite. People make broad generalizations and when
you try to correct their mistaken generalizations they don't want to be bothered
by the details. Since these methods are used in intelligence, if you were going
to commit lives to be lost at a certain estimated percentage and you had various
scraps of information (some of which may have been planted by the enemy to
mislead), would say to hell with details the enemy is over there, charge!, like
Entente Powers did way too much in WWI? Or would you want some prep work done in
evaluating those pieces of information. Again, remember, there would be no
information for intelligence to evaluate if there had not been intelligence
gathering in the first place. (analogy, literalism and having texts to work with
in the first place).
Again, I agree that a close and careful reading is important. It's
something I practice regularly. But without the ability to engage the
intuitive and symbolic levels, without knowing how to interweave
texts, it remains pretty sterile, in my opinion.
Again, read my earlier reply. You wouldn't even have texts in translation
ifscholars did not have the ability to intuitively grasp symbolism and the
nature of the whole text in its own terms. This is that disconnect again showing
Besides, Saxo's tale cannot seriously be read outside a consideration
of Voluspa, which provides the master pattern.
You see this is a mistake. You automatically ranked texts with a preference for
one. What is the basis of that ranking? What evidence
do you have for it? You have to read Saxo on his own terms first. You have to
read the Voluspa on its own terms first. Then, if you decide, on evidence, that
the two texts are relating versions of the same stories about the same
characters, only then are you confronted, on the basis of the factual texts and
your inferences (your reconstructions) that the differences between the two
takes about "the samething" raises a problem.
Again, there only is a problem if you already and automatically reconstructively
inferred they are versions of the same stories and characters. So even seeing a
"problem" is already based on your own reconstruction. Is there an evidential
basis for that? What is it?
Maybe there is no problem and their resemblance is coincidental.
But if you take the route partly based on the texts and partly based on
your own reconstructive moves you may have been unaware of making (which is what
untrained readers do all the time, too much of their information processing is
subconsconscious and automatic -- they literalism that runs against the grain is
partly to bring our own automatic and subliminal reconstructing we are doing
without knowing it to the surface), then
you have a "problem", must remember that the alleged existence of the "problem"
is partly due to your own prior reconstructive inferences.
Given that, you then can't just automatically give preference to one version
over the other. Analogy: you have information that scouts have
picked up enemy contact on your left flank. More bits of information come in.
One bit claims your forward observers see enemy troops withdrawing. Others say
enemy troops are advancing. Another bit comes in saying you are faced with only
one enemy platoon. Another bit says you are dealing with a whole company. Now,
we don't know if all these observations are about the same troop movements or
units. Perhaps observers are looking at several different things (just like the
texts resemblance might be coincidental) happening. But if we assume the bits of
information are about the samething (analogously, Saxo and Voluspa are about the
same thing), then and only then do we have a "problem" based partly on our own
reconstructive inferences of what the enemy may be up to. In fact we have two
problems pertaining to size and movement. Problem #1 Is the enemy advancing or
withdrawing? Problem #2 Is it a platoon or company?
You don't have the luxury to automatically give preference to certain pieces of
information. You might prefer to hear it is only a platoon (less resources you
have to invest and lives to risk) that is withdrawing (you may not have to
commit resources and lives in combat) so you can follow your own operational
directives but you can't automatically give the information you prefer (i.e.,
Volsupa) a higher rank to make decisions on and act on. So, you have to find a
reasoned and evidential way to decide whether the enemy is advancing or
withdrawing at platoon or company strength (i.e., whether to go with Voluspa or
Saxo). See what I mean?
You said, "For example, the resurrection accounts in the gospels are
That depends on your point of view, now doesn't it? It depends upon
whether you take a completely literalist view or not. Eyewitness
reports are often contradictory and yet can be synthesized into a
plausible reconstruction. I needn't point this out, as it is a common
First of all, we know from the manuscript tradition, btw the number of Greek
manuscripts of the NT is around 5446, that these are neither eyewittness
accounts nor contemporary. The resurrection accounts are later than the original
gospels and tacked on. They did not reach their current form until 100 to 300
years after the fact. There are three different versions of the gospel of
Matthew, four different versions of Mark, and probably three different versions
of Luke. The gospels you know (since you probably don't know the manuscripts we
actually have) are the late prodcut of multiple theologically motivated editors
and authors working over about a 300 year time period. The earliest resurrection
accounts are like Paul's vison on the road to Damascus. It is a nonphysical
visionary experience. The empty-tomb narratives were tacked on at a very late
date partly to answer (fictionally) against the pagan charge that Christians
were suffering from mass
halucinations. We have the manuscripts in terms of older and newer so we can
watch and document the creative and fictional changes made to construct the
"It is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription
errors in the texts of manuscripts. Ancient scribes often made errors
or alterations when copying manuscripts by hand. Given a manuscript
copy, several or many copies, but not the original document, the
textual critic seeks to reconstruct the original text."
Well, then, we're completely outside a literalist reading, aren't we?
Because this is a highly subjective, interpretive task here. It is
this level of things which is often swept under the table and lost in
the footnotes. Rydberg pointed out many times how dangerous scholarly
emendations are. We're second-guessing the copyists. Yes, they did
make mistakes, and yes, sometimes it is obvious where, but we have to
be extremely careful in this area.
You're leaping all about here. First it is not highly subjective. It has to pass
muster in the eyes of other scholars who may disagree with some of your theories
you propose later. Second, it is not swept under the table. Sorry if you can't
read the originals but critical editions with variants are not going to be in
translation. The lacuna are left in place. Various scholarly corrections are
noted. But this will never, ever be done in a translation because a translation
is the improper instrument to do critical work. Are you going to tell me you
will use your English Bible to determine which Greek manuscript(s) are reliable?
Are you going to use your English bible to determine the nuances between to
variant Hebrew passages and whether the variants are paraphrases of each other
(thus harmless) or different with intent? You are going to pick that up from the
English?! Since spelling was not standardized until way after the invention of
printing, are you
going to use your English Bible to determine whether two Greek words are the
same but with variant spelling or two different words (one we may not have
encountered before)? People confined to reading translations sometimes act like
they think there is a conspiracy out there where they are not getting the real
and original information when the fact of the matter is that a translation is
always more like an interpretative paraphrase instead of a literal verbatim
transcription, and thus, it is totally inappropriate as a research tool or
text-tool to do research with. Critical editions, again, must be in the original
languages, leave all variant spellings and lacuna in place while giving all
variant readings and scholarly "emendations" clearly noted. But it serves no
purpose in translation because the questions asked and the evidence to answer
them will never be found in a translation but only in the original language.
I snipped the rest because I already tried to answer it above and in my prior
post. Again, refer to the military analogy I offered. You can't just blindly
give automatic preference to on bit of information over another which was what
you were bringing up again in what I snipped. To do so is blind prejudice.
Sun Oct 26, 2008
Can we cut the personal comments immediately? The spirit of this list is to discuss creative mythological ideas not air our feelings about one another. If anyone wishes to do that, please take it to private mail.
This list is about religion and mythology. It isn't personal. Since we don't know each other personally, we have no idea what motivates one another. Naturally anything you say passionately or quickly can be taken anatagonistically, whether it was meant to be or not. Remember there is no tone or inflection in print, and no facial expressions or body language to go on. If you feel offended, be the bigger person. Rather than assume, ask. We don't have to like one another to have a productive and meaningful conversation. We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences and appreoaches, that has been established.
There has been a lot of substantial material posted onlist that is worth discussing. We need not agree, but let's not go personal. Comment on what interests you, ignore what doesn't. As list owner and moderator, I'm asking politely. This kind of stuff is certainly not what I signed up for, or what I enjoy reading. I doubt anyone here does.
Wed Jan 28, 2009
I have assembled some indications that Vayu may have previously held
the supremacy. This within Zoroastrian sources ; we can cover the
Vedic sources later. I know that some will dispute this information
and will offer other interpretations. I concede that much material is
capable of different readings. But I also assert that the following
readings, non-exclusive of other readings, have a valid place, and
provide good grounding for the case that Vayu once held a supreme
"Vay, the Good, donned a garment of gold and silver, adorned with
precious stones, purple, and having many colours, and it had the stamp
of warriorhood ; for he pursues the enemy from behind that he may
smite the Aggressor and protect creation ; even as it is said --- "The
office of Vay is to carry off opposition in the two creations -- both
that created by the Bounteous Spirit and that created by the
Destructive Spirit' -- in so far as it is he who will bring the battle
to an end, will bring increase to the creation of Ohrmazd and
destruction to that of the Destructive Spirit." (R.C. Zaehner, Zurvan
: A Zoroastrian Dilemma, Biblo and Tanen, New York, 1972, p. 333 ;
selected from the 3rd chapter of the Greater Bundahisn.)
"Ram, who is called the good Vay of the long Dominion is truly Vay of
the long Dominion who, among spiritual beings, has the office of
chieftainship of the warriors. When the souls of the blessed pass over
the Cinvat Bridge, the good Vay takes them by the hand and brings them
to their appointed place. He is called Ram because he gives pleasure
(ramisn) to all creation. When the evil Vay [Vay i vattar] strikes the
breath-soul from the body, the good Vay [Vay i veh] receives it and
gives it contentment." (Ibid, p. 338 ; selection from the 26th chapter
of the Greater Bundahisn.)
"And he fashioned forth creation with the aid of Vay of the long
Dominion : for when he fashioned forth Vay of the long Dominion, it
too was as an instrument and needful for the act of creation." (Ibid,
p. 317 ; selection from the 1st chapter of the Greater Budahisn.)
And, if Vay is the "chieftain" of the warriors, it is interesting to
note how the sky is compared to a warrior : "Like a husbandman the
spirit of the sky is possessed of thought and speech and deeds, knows,
produces much, discerns ... Like a valiant warrior who dons his armour
that fearless he may return from battle, so does the spirit of the sky
keep (don) the sky. And to help the sky, he (Ohrmazd) gave it joy, for
he fashioned joy for its sake : for even now in the mixed state
creation is in joy." (Ibid, p. 319.)
"One is the robe of warriorhood, the ordering of good in its
contaminated estate which, since it comprises good order, ability,
priesthood, the parent of wisdom, power, and the orderly dispensation
of the (natural) law, influences whatever has the character of
orderliness and tends to benefit creation ; and this was bestowed on
him (sc. Vay) through Time from its decisive dispensation that orders
aright to its ultimate advantage, and it has the same origin as Vay,
the recipient of this very weapon above and within both (creations)
till the end : and this robe is the essence of Vay of lofty deeds and
his garment ; among the gods it is associated chiefly with the Spirit
Vay whose name is the Wheel, that is the firmament, and it is also
called Spahr (Owasa), and with the swift wind and the breath of man ;
among virtues it is with the speed which is in men, that is valour ;
among modes of conduct in ... orderliness ; among characters in
righteous desire and action conducive to greater good order ; among
material 'forms' in the swift and valiant body ; among the castes in
the warriors ; among rulers in the valiant commander of an army ;
among garments in the red and wine-coloured garment, adorned with all
kinds of ornament, with silver and gold, chalcedony, and shining ruby
; among deeds in the great good ordering of character, the destruction
and furtherance of both the good and evil creations." (Zaehner, op
cit., pp. 377 - 378, translation from the Denkart, emphases mine.)
This is not the decisive proof ; that will have to wait for a moment.
For the time being, note the important characteristics :
Vayu is associated with the "swift wind" and the "breath of man" (Odin
giving ond). He is associated with speed, swiftness, warriors, and
commanders of armies. He is the parent of wisdom, but also of power,
and even the dispensation of law. (By being such a parent, does he not
gravitate towards a title of "All-Father"? And even if he is but the
parent of the warrior-castes here does he not gravitate towards the
title of "Val-Father"?) Moreover, once the world has been corrupted
(ie., once good has reached its "contaminated estate"), he is the one
who maintains whatever order the world still has left, keeps the
remaining good in good condition, and finally shall bring about the
destruction of evil. That much is all very consistent with what we
know about Odin, and as you can see compiled here, is substantially
the same character.
But let us also note that he is here identified with the "Wheel" which
is the "Firmament" which is also called "Spahr", and then move on to
the next text :
"From the stage the name of which is formation and expansion
(proceeded) the first body united with the Spirit of the Power of the
Word ; and its Avestan name is the Wheel and it also has the name of
Spahr (Owasa) and in the language of men it is called the firmament
(spihr). In it, like embryos, are the luminaries, the Sun, Moon, and
stars, all of the same origin ... From the Wheel proceeded becoming,
the hot and the moist of which air is composed : these are connected
with the spiritual Word and share in its power ... From the movement
of becoming (proceeded) the settling of becoming, living things, which
include material cattle and men, for they are the form and shape of
matter." (Ibid, p. 374 ; translation from the Denkart.)
Here, the Wheel/Firmament/Spahr is the first body that united with the
Spirit of the Power of the Word, and from it proceeded all Becoming,
the processes that resulted eventually in the creation of living
things and men.
But the previous passage has IDENTIFIED Vay with the
Thus, I believe we are justified here in saying that Vay(u) was known
to be the first one to unite with the Spirit of the Power of the Word,
just as Odin discovered the Runes and is responsible for Ansuz
(speech), and that from Vayu came the process of becoming out of which
spun first the embryos of the sun, moon, and stars, and finally men
This is significant, because it places Vayu in a place of Creator.
Note that what's happening here is that essentially, Vayu is being
identified with the SKY (ie., "firmament), and thus, cognately
speaking, with Dyaus/Zeus as it were.
Let us then remember what I've already pointed out here:
"Like a husbandman the spirit of the sky is possessed of thought and
speech and deeds, knows, produces much, discerns ... Like a valiant
warrior who dons his armour that fearless he may return from battle,
so does the spirit of the sky keep (don) the sky. And to help the sky,
he (Ohrmazd) gave it joy, for he fashioned joy for its sake : for
even now in the mixed state creation is in joy." (Ibid, p. 319.)
The sky is not just a material object. It is a spirit that possesses
thought, speech, and deeds. It knows and discerns, and moreover,
"produces much", ie., is a creator. It is a valiant warrior who dons
armor and keeps the sky. Moreover, it is characterized by joy.
This last characteristic, of joy, is significant when we consider the
other thing I discovered :
"...[T]he good Vay ... is called Ram because he gives pleasure
(ramisn) to all creation. When the evil Vay [Vay i vattar] strikes the
breath-soul from the body, the good Vay [Vay i veh] receives it and
gives it contentment." (Ibid, p. 338 ; selection from the 26th chapter
of the Greater Bundahisn.)
Vay(u) is called Ram because he gives pleasure (ramisn) to all creation.
The sky is characterized by joy.
According to D.N. MacKenzie's A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary (Oxford
University Press, Oxford, 1971/1986/1990), p. 70, "ramisn" means
"peace, ease, pleasure", and comes from the verb "ramendidan, ramen-",
to "give peace, pleasure."
Now, of course, all of this is couched within a larger context whereby
Vayu is given power by either Time or Ohrmuzd, but the point is that
how could what I have assembled have survived unless at one point in
time Vayu was even more powerful?
We are not looking for a statement in the Zoroastrian religious texts
that out-and-out says that Vayu was the supreme god, for such
statement obviously will not be found, but what I have assembled (in
addition to the Ram Yasht in Avesta) is as close as it comes.
Here we have Vayu associated not only with warriorship, but with
Wisdom, The Power of Words, The Process of Becoming (Creation), the
Preservation of the Good, Control of the Winds and the Breath of Men,
and the Bringer of Joy and Pleasure (Oski?).
Zaehner (p. 83) translates "tizyarsta, tizyarstis" from the Ram Yasht
about Vayu where his names are listed as "he is a sharp spear and the
owner of a sharp spear". Amongst many other names there he is also
called the "all-conqueror" and "the harmful" (compare : Bolverkr)
Here we have :
A spear-carrying warrior whose name means "He Who Blows", renowned for
a great Cloak symbolic of the skies, who was the first power amongst
the gods to unite himself with the Power of the Word, and who is
therefore the Father of Wisdom, Power, and Dispensation of Law ; who
is therefore held to be the origin of the process of becoming in the
world, whereby all things were shaped, as the becoming of embryos in a
womb, whether they be the luminaries of the heavens, or animals and
men, into whom he placed the Breath of Life ; who moreover once the
world has been mixed with evil, acts as the commander of the hosts of
armies to preserve what good remains in the world, so that what joy
remains may be dispensed to men, and who is thus known as a doer of
inspiring deeds who inspires others to valiant deeds. By his brave
battleskills will the evil in the world finally be brought to an end.
Is this not Odin, the All-Father, in his essence?
Now all of that is derived from PRIMARY SOURCES.
But see what the scholar R.C. Zaehner (the author and translator) has
to say in his commentary about Vay(u) :
"Originally Vayu appears to have been the supreme deity ... Ahura
Mazdah himself prays to him that he may vanquish the creatures of
Ahriman, thereby acknowledging his own inferiority ... That he was in
some part of Iran elevated to the rank of supreme deity appears
clearly in the fifteenth Yast. Ahura Mazdah prays to him, and he
pursues both creations, that of Ahura Mazdah as well as that of
Ahriman : further, he conquers them both. He is in fact superior to
good and evil ..." (Zaehner, op cit., pp. 82 - 83.)
This quotation is important. Zaehner not only held the Spalding
Professorship of Eastern Religions and Ethics at the University of
Oxford, but had also a long career as a scholar of Zoroastrianism.
This doesn't make his view infallible, of course, but it does give his
views impeccable credentials, and thus we may say that a serious and
respected scholar of Zoroastrianism feels that the Ram Yasht where
Ahura Mazdah prays to Vay(u) is significant of the latter's
superiority to the other.
"In the Pahlavi texts ... Vay, once the god of the wind that blows
between heaven and earth, has now become the intervening space between
the Kingdom of Light above and the Kingdom of Darkness below. Within
this impersonal element the struggle between the principles of Light
and Darkness takes place. As is only fitting, Vay, who once stood
above good and evil, has become a place of mixture between the powers
of good and the powers of evil. After the creation, Vay is conceived
of as the atmosphere between the earth and sky ; it is used in
contra-distinction to the earth ... In the macrocosm Vay is the
life-giving power and corresponds to the 'fiery wind' in the body of
man 'which is the breath-soul (jan)' ... After the universal
rehabilitation (fraskart) which takes place at the end of the cosmic
period, Vay becomes the dwelling-place of the purified souls ... Vay
would seem to be identical with Space." (Ibid, pp. 84 - 85.)
In other words, he's omnipresent and thus cannot be dispensed with. We
see clear indications throughout of his identification with the sky
and the atmosphere.
But we also see traces of the idea that purified souls will dwell with
Vayu, as the einheriar dwelt with Odin in Valhall.
Apparently, being identified with Space, he could sometimes be
identifed with Time as well:
"...[A]ccording to the Greater Bundahisn, good 'things bestowed reach
(men) through Time (zaman) who is Vay of the Long Dominion ..." (Ibid,
But this may simply be in accordance with Vay(u)'s already-attested
ability to dispense law and pleasure/joy to men.
"Justice, too, is one of the attributes of Vay, for he 'is more just
than the just and has respect for none, nor does he accept bribes :
and he observes justice with both master and servant, with the one as
with the other.'" (Ibid, pp. 89 - 90 ; from the Abyatkar i
Vazurg-mithr, a Pahlavi text.)
I think that may be the limit of Vay's exposition in this text, but to
sum up :
We have a spear-carrying warrior god who wears a cloak symbolic of the
skies, who was the first to gain the power of the word, and is
therefore the father of wisdom, power, and the dispensation of law ;
who is just to both high and low, and who distributes blessings to men
as a wish-giver (oski) ; who fights as the supreme commander of the
armies (i.e., "Commander-in-Chief") to keep the good that still
remains in the world after its corruption, and who will finally at the
end of time destroy that corruption. Those who fight with him shall
join him in his heavenly abode. He caused the winds to blow and the
breath of life to enter into men, and from the processes he set forth,
the creation-process of the world began.
This is Odin.
This is Odin as supreme god.
This is Odin as All-father.
It's true that the Zoroastrians divide him up into the Good Vay and
the Evil Vay, and try to subordinate him to Ohrmazd, but it is only
ever partially done.
I agree with Zaehner that there are signs that he was the supreme god
at least amongst some Iranians.
The passage about justice is astounding. Something some Asatruars
ought to pay attention to as well! That he cannot be bribed is
something Rydberg emphasized, and emphasized by his command to not
"over-give". That he is as concerned with the conduct of the thrall as
of the earl is interesting, but accords with Urd's invocation of
Heimdall's sons "high and low" before she recites to All-Father the
deeds of woe.