27. Nordic Myth

 

Nordic religion is about the great battle between good and evil, light and darkness. Man is a warrior, and his highest goal is to die fighting, and if he dies on the battlefield, he will come to Odin in Valhalla where he must practice his fighting ability until the last day, when he has to join on the good side in the final battle.

The dark side is very strong and constantly threatening the light: “the sun hurries in its course”, because it is constantly followed by a giant wolf, who wants to swallow it.

 

 

The tree-of-life symbolism

 

The first root of Yggdrasill, the cosmic tree of life, is gnawn by countless worms and snakes, and 4 stags eat its buds. But the 3 Norns nurse the second root laying soft and wet mud on its root, wet with the sublime white fluid of the well of Urd: it is the symbol of divine whiteness and holy purity, whiteness without any element of darkness: everything that comes into this well turns white like the two swans that swim in the well.

Yggdrasill is the great upholding force in the universe; the dew dripping from it into the valleys is the honey drops in the flowers.

There is a delicate balance in nature, the good life-bringing forces constantly being worn down and gnawed to the bone by worms and maggots, and many animals feeding on them. The world exists in the mildness where the roaring, ice-cold rivers of Hvergelmir meet the burning heat from Muspelheim.

Also Yggdrasill is the “bridge” that holds the two antagonistic forces together: a heavenly eagle flying at its top and the dragon Nidhøg in Hvergelmir; between them the little squirrel runs to and fro as a messenger bringing angry words from one to the other. Yggdrasill holds the many antagonistic forces of cosmos in some kind of balance. It is a symbol of God, the Highest, in the midst of nature when the mighty forest opens up, and poor man in a blessed moment sees/feels a glimpse of the Almighty.

For 9 days Odin hanged himself in Yggdrasill “an offering of himself to himself”. Åke V.Ström takes this as a parallel to the purusha-offering in the Vedas. But this does not explain why he is hanging on the tree of life.

Here we have to do with a survival of the old prehistoric folk religion. The highgod is the god of vegetation, and he is killed by the hunter, but often the ecstatic hunter merges with his victim (ex.: Dionysos). Odin is both the king of vegetation dying in the tree and the killer. A second motif is that by experiencing death, Odin becomes the master of magic. Yggdrasill is also called Mimer's tree, after Mimer's well, where Odin had to pawn his eye. That Odin only has one eye makes him a mystic looking into ultimate unity, leaving duality. One eye is constantly looking into the well of wisdom, the other into the normal world.

The enormous tree going from earth to heaven is a mystical vision of the source of all life. In the temple of Jerusalem the seven-branded candlestick, the Menorah was burning night and day, the ever-burning, ever-blossoming symbol of God himself as the light and life-source of the universe. Yggdrasill is also a symbol of life always suffering under the attacks of death and destruction, but conquering darkness and dragons.

From the horns of the stag, Eikthyrnir, water is running into the well of Hvergelmir, from which all waters have their origin (Grimnismal 26). Water, the source of all life, is thereby linked to the holy stag at the tree of life.

Yggdrasill is a mystical symbol: it is the higher source of all life in the universe, life in concentrated form. By it is the well of life and the apples which give eternal life (life ever renewed). Its name means "the horse of Ygg (Odin)”, the place where he mounts to travel to heaven.

The goats or stags feeding on the tree of life is a well known motif in the iconography of the Near East.

In the palaces of Assyria the tree of life is omnipresent, the earliest occurrence we have encountered is a seal from Susa. We know it from Genesis and the Menorah, from the temple of Gades and rather detailed descriptions in Iranian texts.[1]

It is not so prominent in Egypt, Arabia, Rome, but we meet the symbolism in full scale in Nordic myth: the cosmic dimension, the eagle at the top, the snake at the root, the divine deer, the life-giving function in cosmos, the well of life or juice of life running from its root or dripping from its top, the apples that give eternal life to the gods fallen from its branches (Ydun with her apples fell from Yggdrasill). It seems as if the high North has preserved many authentic features of a myth that has come to Scandinavia from an area somewhere between Nineveh and Susa.

In many ways Scandinavia as a remote corner of Europe, far from the many wars and wanderings pushing populations to and fro has preserved many elements of archaic folk religion.

 

At the beginning, the aser played the game of the golden dice (that is, determined the destiny), but this golden age came to an end by the arrival of 3 women – the 3 norns, that now rule over the destiny of men and gods. Ragnarok means “destiny of the gods”. After Ragnarok, the gods that are left, will find again the golden dice/tablets.

The culmination of Ragnarok is the sons of Muspel riding up the bridge to heaven, which breaks under their horses; first rides Surt, and “before and after him is fire”. The sons of Muspel form a mighty army and are met by Odin with golden helmet leading the einherjer (the dead warriors).

To the Danish Romantic poet, Grundtvig, the Sons of Muspel were the rationalist thinkers and scholars. Their lack of spirit and inspiration shall, in the last days, cut off the communication between heaven and earth:

 “Is this the light of the living ones: a science that only shows us death, decay, that everything has to die and rot”.

“This is ungrateful to the hidden wisdom, the high Norn who weaves our destiny”. “We live in times when people, by simply rejecting everything they do not understand, have attained a high opinion of their own intelligence. They consider that which they do not understand a nothing, and thereby they can claim that nothing surpasses their ratio.”

Odin is the spirit of the North, he is Sig-father, and he lives in Sig-tuna (Field of Victory), he is the high god, he is a trinity, "All-father", creator, and most of the minor gods are his sons, that is: aspects of his being.

 Vøluspa: "The Prophecy of the Soothsayer" tells about the creation of the first human couple, Ask and Embla ("Ask & Vine", Greek: ampelos), that they were found "on the ground without much strength", but were given

ond  by Odin

oth   by Hønir

la & læti & lito gotha by  Lothur.

 

ond = breath

oth  = inspired mind, ecstasy, madness (cf.  Othin)

la, læti, lito gotha = hair, manners  (Danish: lader), good complexion.

Å.V.Ström[2] enumerates the many examples of Odin, Hønir, and Loki acting together. They are a trinity consisting of the Highgod, his fair and his darker side. Hønir is known as a very fair god, but very silent. As a matter of fact, he can only speak as a medium for the ever-wise Mimer. When Mimer is not present, his answer is always: "Let others decide". Now the wisdom of Mimer is certainly the best part of Odin´s thinking. At the end of time, when Ragnarok draws near, his eye pawned in Mimer's well will be darkened because of the well being filled with dirt. This lack of clear sight is part of the cosmic catastrophe. So Hønir is the part of the divine trinity acting out of divine and perfect wisdom.

Oth is the same word as in Othin. Hønir is called "long-legged", "pace-Meili" and "king of the silt". He is the bird of ecstasy seen as a stork, and his name is connected to the Danish word for hen ("høne"). He is the white side of Odin/Othin reflecting divine wisdom, Lothur is a name meaning "the hairy one" (Danish: "lodden"), "shaggy". He is the opposite of the fair personality of Hønir.  He creates the outward pride of man where Hønir created the inward mark of nobility.

The greatest Danish king is King Frotho. Under him the legendary Frode-fred, "the Frotho-peace”, ruled the whole northern part of Europe. Frotho is put on the throne while still a young boy, and is totally dominated by his lifeguard, a band of chaotic-acting, very violent warriors. They are very threatening to everybody, also to the very beautiful sister of the king, Gunvør. Their leader wants her as his wife, and to avoid him she has to turn her home into a stronghold with constant guard. Out of envy, the leader of the warriors, Grep, kills all other suitors, and becomes the lover of the Queen, and he and his men act very shamefully to all women, both married and unmarried.

Then comes a man of supernatural cleverness to the court. His name is Erik, and he is an incarnation of the high-god, his name meaning “The only mighty one” (Ein-rikr). He arrives at midwinter, for in reality he is the light coming back to Denmark. By cunning he gets the hand of the King’s sister, by cunning he kills some of the worst criminal warriors in a great fight on the ice, by cunning he conquers a woman who is a kind of leader of the bad men. By her amazing ability to talk dirty, she has won a great influence on the hooligans. Everybody fears her tongue. Erik is greeted by the bad warriors with a great howling: they are organized in a band of 12 “brothers”, they are the men's society of wolf-warriors, dealing with magic and living in free sexual relations. The King is saved out of their terror-regime by a near-to-death experience, and instead Erik becomes his adviser, helping him to win over the chaos-people, the Hunns and the Finnish army, and at last the famous "Frode-fred" is created by laws issued by the King. Law and order is established to the degree that the King can put his golden arm-ring on the ground and leave it, and it is not stolen.

 

 

Swana, the sister of Hengist and Horsa:[3]

 

Swana is a Nordic goddess. In Saxo VIII we are told about the great King Jarmerik having his beautiful Queen Svanhild (“War-swan”) trampled to death under the hooves of horses, but she is revenged by her brothers. The divine twins liberating a sister is an Indo-European motif: Castor and Polydeuces liberating Helen, Zethos and Amphion liberating their mother Antiope, Sita being liberated by Rama and his brother Laksmanam, Helen being liberated by Agamemnon and Menelaos in the Iliad. Donald Ward[4] calls it the “Liberation of Kudrun” motif.

The goddess, the root of fertility, is being held captive by a cruel dragon like king, a tyrant with chaos as his nature. But in Indo-European tradition the goddess of the third function, the fertility-function, is always closely followed by the Dioscuric brothers: they will liberate her.

This works also the other way around: a pair of brothers, Regnar and Thorald, are living as shepherds in the forest when they are saved by the magic of their sister Svanhvide (“Swan-white”) against an attack by all kinds of demons.

Saxo's Erik frees the sister of Frotho and takes her as his wife, and his Dioscuric brother, Roller, is even able to take over King Frotho's former queen. This strange exchange of wives could be explained when we remember that Frode is the god Frej, and Gunvør, “the beautiful”, an epiphany of Frej's sister Freja. Both girls represent the goddess liberated by a Dioscuric pair of brothers.

The woman liberated symbolizes a female power of fertility closely connected to the white bird, the swan, conf. Helen and the Dioscuri born from a swan's egg.

 

The near-to-death experience that liberates Frotho from being dominated by the demon-warriors to being under the influence of Erik is like a Christian baptism. Three times he goes down and disappears in the waves, but is saved by Erik and Roller, Erik's half brother. He is very weak, and only very slowly regains his voice and his sight, and he wants to kill himself. Because of Erik's clever talking he begins to hope again.

The reason for Erik's wisdom is a special porridge prepared for him and his half brother by Erik´s stepmother, “Crow”, a woman with knowledge of witchcraft. The best part of the porridge was meant for her own son, the weaker part for the stepson, who turns the bowl to get the strongest part. Roller spied on his mother while she was preparing the meal, and saw three snakes hanging over the porridge letting their venom drip into it. One snake was white hanging higher than the two other worms, being tied by its tail while the other two were tied around their bellies:

 

 

Why this arrangement, and why was the venom coming from the two black snakes much stronger and wisdom-giving than the venom dripping from the white snake?

The poor white one hanging down from its tail is not able to coil. The two being tied around the belly are able to coil. They are the coiling double-snake, a symbol of mystical vision, the highest wisdom.

 

The ecstasy of the berserks could also be expressed by bird's heads:              

 

Murthly, Skotland. (Early  Christ.Mon. of Scotl.,fig.321)

                                                     

The man-into-leopard-symbolism becomes a man-into-wolf-symbolism in Indo-European warrior-ideology, and we will find the wild hunt and the ecstatic charging of the berserks and the wolf-warriors under the leadership of Odin in Nordic Religion. The name of Odin is derived from Wut = “ecstatic rage”(old-high-Germ.for Odin: Wuotan). The corresponding words in Iranian warrior ideology is aesma, “wild rage", and vehrka, “wolf”.

Odin is the leader of the dead warriors, he is the god of death and is accompanied by two black ravens. He leads the “wild hunt”.

In Angl. Chron. Laud 1127 we find the following description:

“Soon after many men saw and heard many hunters hunt. The hunters were black and big and ugly, and their dogs were all black and big-eyed and ugly, and they rode on black horses and black billygoats … the monks heard the blowing of horns being blown in the night … the whole springtime until Easter.”

Otto Höfler[5] has shown that the archaic masquerade of the young-men’s-society often pictures the wild hunt/army.

In Indo-European warrior-ideology there were societies of young men of a deeply chaotic character. They took force from the dark side, the demon-side of the supernatural. They howled like wolves, growled like bears, biting their shields, going berserk.

They were the army of the dead spirits and demons attacking. They were often fighting in heroic nudity, only with a leather-belt around their loins (instead of the old leopard's skin) and with a long hair-plait hanging down behind.

Colin Renfrew.[6], the most prominent member of the “New Archeologist School” thinks that the Proto-Indo-Europeans came from Inner Anatolia. In the 7th mill BC they began to spread over Europe after a “wave of advance model”. They were the first farmers slowly spreading while clearing the woods.

Marija Gimbutas, Lithuanian prof., now working at the University of California, takes the opposite view: Indo-European languages originated in the Kurgan-culture 5000-2000 B.C. With their herds of cattle and the characteristic battle-axe they subdued the former settlers violently. She has written in Journal of Indo-European Studies.[7]

 

The motif chosen as the front cover for Ström-Biezais, Germanische und Baltische religion, is an ornament from a helmet found at Torslunda, Öland, Sweden. It shows a wolf-warrior and a man running with a spear in each hand. He has a round face and on top of the helmet two snakes kissing. He is not to be identified with Odin as Åke Ström suggests but the scene must be compared to similar scenes collected by A. Margaret Arent, "The Heroic Pattern: Old Germanic Helmets"[8]:

 

 

 

 

The two pictures at the top[9] show the man running and a wolf warrior handing over his sword to the running. The twin motif on the third picture shows that the two spears are the gate of the sun, guarded by the primordial twins. The flaps on the helmet are not flaps to protect the neck but the tails of the two snakes coiling together in some kind of massive cubic knot. The running warrior is the Nordic sun hero who by his activated kundalini-force is able to follow the sun and have victory over the chaotic forces and even the hooliganism represented by the much-feared berserkers.

 

Odin has made a covenant with black magic and thereby opened the door to powers that will be his destiny: the Fenris, the Midgárd-worm, the harrowing of Hell, all of them children of Loki.

Loki is perhaps connected with the Danish words for gate: luge”, ”lukke”. He is the gate through which evil forces came into the world of aser and men.

The great theme in Nordic religion is the battle between good and evil. “All-father” Odin is the leader of the battle, the leader of gods and men against the demons. But he is vulnerable because of his own dabbling with the occult. Frøj is also handicapped: he gave his sword for a beautiful demon-girl. So in the end-battle he will be killed by Surt. Odin will be killed by the Fenris, the personification of the demon-side of his own berserk-ideology of man changed into wolf.

Therefore Odin has to die to give room for resurrected Balder, the Christ-like figure.

Bede's Ecclesiastical History tells us that Saxons, Angles and Jutes came over on long-ships about 450-56 AC. The first two commanders are said to have been Hengist and Horsa (“Stallion” and “Horse”) “Of whom Horsa being slain in battle by the Britons, was buried…”

This dual kingship is very typical of Germanic myth. The Longobards were led by the brothers Aggo & Ebbo (acc. to Saxo). The vandals by Ambi & Assi, Asdingi by Raos & Raptos. The father of Amlodi (Hamlet) was acc to Saxo, Horvendillus (“Morning star”), who ruled Jutland together with his brother Fenge, who later killed him and took his wife. Snorre tells about the brothers Erik & Alrik, who kill each other with the horse bridles. They are also early kings. The first two kings of Denmark are Dan and Angel followed by Humble and Loter. Loter took his brother prisoner. We at once remember the first king of Rome, Romolus, who killed his brother Remus, and Cain who killed Abel and founded the first city in the world.

This myth about the divine twins is very important[10]. They are not always twins, they can also be brothers. They are a Dioscuric pair like Castor & Polydeuces in Sparta, Castor & Pollux in Rome, closely connected to the morning- and evening stars and often seen as young horsemen.

It seems very likely that also the killing of Balder by his brother Høder has some connection to the myth about the divine twins or brothers. In Beowulf, Herebald (Baldr) is shot by his brother Hæthcyn with bow and arrow (2435-40) by accident. After Ragnarok the newborn/reborn world is populated by pairs of brothers, and among them the brothers Høder and Balder returned from Hell. It has all something to do with the polarity of life and of the universe.(In Sumerian and other cosmogonies the world takes shape through a process of divisions into light and darkness, into the waters over the firmament and the waters below, into sea and dry land). Balder is light. His eyebrows are whiter than the whitest flower. Høder is darkness. He is blind. Abel is a shepherd, Cain cultivates the land, builds a city, founds civilization, his family is a family of inventors. The divine twins are a pair of opposites.

With the return of Høder and Balder balance is restored, and strife is finished.

 

One of the latest attempts to solve the mysteries connected with the Baldermyth is Frederik Stjernfelt, Baldr og verdendramaet, 1990. Stjernfelt rejects Frazer’s understanding of Balder as a god parallel to the Near Eastern dying and rising gods like Adonis, Attis, Osiris. He tries to work his way on in the footsteps of G.Dumézil (and René Girard: the gods throwing their weapons at Balder as a play is in fact a killing concealed and suppressed by later conscience, and all the blame is put on Loki who is then chained as the poor scapegoat.) Stjernfelt sees the killing of Balder in connection with the cosmology from creation to Ragnarok: the creation begins with the macroanthropos Ymir, who is “evil with all his family”. Therefore he is killed, and his family, the giants, drown in the enormous spilling of his blood (except one). Odin and his two brothers do the killing and the universe is created by the different parts of Ymir's body. But Odin is himself out of giant family, and Loki, the god full of evil tricks, is his blood-brother, perhaps even his true brother. Stjernfelt enumerates the many parallels between the two gods, their working together, and the many incidents where Loki, with his unsurpassed cunning, has to save the gods from disaster.

Now Balder is the god of light: “About him there are only good things to be said. He is the best and praised by all”, says Snorre. His eyebrow is like the whitest of all the flowers, and he sends out light. He is the most merciful, and at his home, Bredeblik, nothing unclean can exist. When Loki, after the killing of the good god, is chained and finally turned into the devil, this is the separation of good and evil after a time of innocence, where good and evil were living together, and Loki living at Asgàrd among the gods.

This situation, Loki as Udgárdsloki is the present situation, it is the situation of duality, but will be followed by Ragnarok, where the whole party of evil will come, and the inhabitants of Hell under the command of Loki. Now in a very characteristic way they fight two and two with the gods. The Fenriswolf killing Odin (the wolf being the dark side of this god), but being torn up by Vidar, Thor's son. The Midgárd-worm killing Thor in its last dying moment. The dog, Garm, and Tyr killing each other. Frøj being killed by Surt, the giant with the flaming sword setting the whole earth on fire. Loki and Heimdal killing each other. Good and evil are coming at each other, and polarity being dissolved. The earth burns in fire and sinks in the sea, but rises anew from the sea, and Balder and Høder are reconciled and return from Hell. Stjernfelt is right in seeing the myth as a myth about good and evil mixed and separated. We can go even further: Balder and Høder are the two sons of Odin. One of Odin’s eyes is blind like Høder. Balder and Høder are the splitting up of Odin's nature into Light and Darkness. The present time is the time of duality, splitting up into good and evil, and salvation is duality coming into one (good and evil and fire and water). Balder and Høder are reconciled, but not Balder and Loki. The unity is a unity of a higher order, and the golden tablets, the symbols of world order, are found in the grass by the surviving gods. About Balder's son, Forseti, it is told that all who come to him with difficult strife are reconciled before they leave him[11].

It is very difficult to reach a full understanding of the Nordic “devil”, Loki. He is one of the gods, the aser (Indo-Eur.: *an´sura, Sanscr.: as´ura, Latin-Gothic by Jordanes: anses). He is good-looking, but not so tall, but cunning and full of evil. At the drinking in Aegir's ale-hall everybody is praising the food and the feast, but this makes Loki mad, and without any reason at all he kills one of the servants. The gods are enraged by this and drive him out of the hall, but he comes back and demands to be let in because of his blood-brother pact with Odin. This starts an argument, and each time one of the gods or goddesses are protesting against Loki's presence he answers with a verse of the following type: “You better keep your mouth…” …and then he mentions a very shameful act committed by this god or goddess: Odin did sejd (magic) at Samsø, his wife, the godmother Frigg, committed adultery with both of Odin’s brothers, Vile and Ve. Freja has flung her leg around every one of the gods.

 Why do the gods tolerate his dangerous presence which finally results in the killing of Balder, the best of all the gods, and in giving birth to the Fenriswolf and the Midgárd-worm, and Loki leading the inhabitants of Hell and all the evil forces in their final attack on the gods at Ragnarok, the final battle ending the present world-order? And why did Odin offer him blood-brotherhood, a ritual uniting them in an even closer unity than normal brotherhood?

Because he gives the aser certain gifts: he makes the agreement with the giant to rebuild the wall around Asgárd, he gives birth to the horse Sleipner with 8 legs, Odin’s swiftest means of transportation. He tricks the dwarfs into making precious gifts for the gods, and as the most important the thunder weapon, Thor´s short hammer.

In my opinion Loki is the incarnation of black magic. He can change into a bird, he can even change into a female being: “eight winters he was beneath the earth milking cows as a maid, and there gave birth to a brood” in a womanish way[12]. Under the earth – as a woman: the tantric magician has to integrate the great female/earth pole of universal duality into his personality and the result is the strange hermaphrodite nature of Loki. The incarnation of wolf-power and kundalini-power, the Fenris and the Midgárd-worm are his sons = different aspects of the black magician’s nature. To get wisdom Odin has to use magic and ask the vølve who is of giant family born before the Flood (or perhaps this is the spirit that speaks through the vølve as its medium). Even at the very moment of the good god's burial the gods have to ask for help from the great masters of evil magic: Balder’s ship can not be moved into the water, so the gods send for a giantess from Jotunheimen. She comes riding on a wolf so fierce that no one can hold its reins, and the giantess has to knock it out. It has snakes as reins. With one mighty pull she drags the ship into the sea. The whole beach shakes and is full of smoke, and fire comes out of the rolls under the keel.

Odin opened the door to black magic and even made a pact with it with devastating consequences.

Balder is the symbol of the glory that shines on life when it is seen with an innocent eye in the light of eternity (Grundtvig).

Myths in the days of Grundtvig were interpreted as nature-myths explaining what goes on in nature: the death of Balder is midsummer, when life at its highest is hit by the arrow of death.

But Grundtvig calls our attention to the fact that this myth is not in any way connected with midsummer, but the main point is the sorrow for Balder’s death at the birth of time and the hope for his resurrection at the end of the world. It has something to do with righteousness and original innocence disappearing from the earth. The evil negative forces in man's heart corrupting the goodness with which life was created. As a secondary force evil comes in as a strange corruption of feelings: to enjoy using violence, killing, hurting and wounding. The gods enjoy being together at Ægir’s hall praising the host, but exactly this having joy in one another and praising a good man provokes the evil instinct of Loki, and suddenly, without any motif whatsoever, he kills one of the servants.

 

In Christianity the dying hope was set aflame again centered on a dying and rising Balder:

Christ was called “White Christ” after “White Balder”. Grimnersmàl mentions Balder's high-castle at Breidablik: “In this region there is no cunning”.

Balder is painted as a king and he is the personification of right: In the ting he is the goal of the harmless weapon-play of the gods. His death is righteousness disappearing from the earth.

But he is also king of the life-forces: Acc. to Saxo Balder is invulnerable because of a certain sweet food brought to him by the Nordic variant of the 3 graces. In Near Eastern myth the king of spring is the king of the paradise-mountain and surrounded by the graces or muses. (Ex: Apollo in the Mt. Parnass surrounded by the 3 + 3 + 3 muses at the Castalia-spring by the holy laurel.) The graces are the personification of the life-renewing forces in spring, and therefore they are painted as the givers of a life-renewing food.

Acc to Gylfaginnung Balder can only be killed by the mistletoe, in Celtic religion the herb of life. (The famous killing of divine white bulls in Celtic religion can only be carried out the moment a mistletoe is cut from an oak.)

Most important for the understanding af the myth of Balder is the function of Balder as king and judge. He is the wisest of all the gods, but his judgements (dómr) cannot have a lasting effect (Gylf. 22). However, his son Forsite has it in his power to bring about an agreement among all who come to him with strife. “His court (dómstathr) is the best among all gods and men”. The cosmos which the father could not create permanently is firmly established by the son.

 

The God in Catal Hüyük dies, but is reborn in his son. Also in the myth of Balder it is of vital importance that Odin can generate a son as a replacement for Balder and as the one taking revenge for him. The many troubles Odin goes through (acc. to Saxo) to get this son can be compared with the troubles of Bata and his cunning in getting the woman pregnant with his son. Odin’s acting as a physician is a variant of the old motif of giving new life and fertility to nature/the goddess after the period of chaos and frigidity.

Balder is the Lord of cosmos killed by the hunter’s bow. Loki is the diabolic huntsman followed by his children: the Fenris wolf, and the coiled snake and the inhabitants of hell. He is the demonic side, the “hunter” side of Odin concentrated and split off from the high God. The group of gods around Balder shooting at him, throwing stones at him, is the ecstatic pack of initiated killing the divine bull (or at least a remnant of that motif).

Saxo tells another version of the Balder-Høder-myth acc. to which Balder is a god, Høder a man. Balder is caught by the beauty of the bathing Nanna, Høders foster-sister. It seems a faint echo of Gen 6,1ff: The sons of God seeing the beauty of the daughters of men. It comes to a battle between gods and men led by Høder, who is not blind, but a very strong warrior.

In the Bible the blood of Abel “is drunk by the field”, in Saxo water flows and flows from the buried body of Balder.

 

Ydun is a Scandinavian goddess with apples that are eaten by the gods as a “medicine against old age”, the motif is also known from Greek mythology: the apples of the Garden of the Hespirides guarded by the snake Ladon. An early flooding of the earth is caused by the killing of the giant and the spilling of their blood, cf. Gen 6,4.

The mistletoe used as the arrow that kills Balder is a paradise plant: it grows “east of Valhal” and is, according to Vøluspa, very beautiful, cf the role it plays in Celtic religion (“nothing is so holy to the druids as the mistletoe”). In the Epic of the Kings retold from Firdusis[13] we read about the fight between Rustam and Isfendiyar. Is. was invulnerable, and just like the death of Balder his death caused great sorrow over the whole of Iran. A bird brought Rustam to the outmost border of the earth, and there he saw a garden, and in it a tamarisk, with a top reaching heaven. He broke off a branch and made the fateful arrow that killed Isfendiyar.

It seems as if the myth of Balder is full of paradise symbols. And Vøluspa tells us that after Ragnarok Balder will return together with Høder, and with Balder’s return the fields will give corn even without any sowing and tilling. He is the “Lord” of paradise. And Høder is the initiated warrior. His name means “warrior”, and acc to Jan de Vries the background of the myth of Balder is a ritual for initiation of the young warrior. In the Bible the name of the son of Cain, Hanok, means “the initiated one”. Høder is a master of playing the zither-strings as also the descendants of Cain[14]. Like Eve, Ydun is tempted by Loki. Loki with the Fenriswolf and the Midgárdworm as his children is the dark side of divine magic, calling upon and arising the mighty Leviathan, and even raising the ghosts of Hell. He is a symbol of what is elsewhere called left-hand tantra, cf. his homosexual nature.

Høder is finally able to kill Balder because he is given some of the godly mash mixed with snake-spittle brought to Balder by the 3 graces.

 

“Nine worlds I remember, nine in the tree

of the glorious measure-tree, under the earth”.

In an ecstatic vision the vølve sees the beginning of time through nine world-ages to the period where the cosmic world-tree was only a sapling under the earth. Cosmological visions of inspired persons are also known from India and Iran: the rsi Markandeya sees the different world-ages and Original Man (purushaya) and the High-god with many names (among them Yama) sitting in the Nyagrodha-Tree[15].

The vision tells how the world was made out of the body of the giant Ymir, in Iran it was made of Gayomart, the different elements coming out of his body.

The gods are playing with golden tablet (destiny is fixed by the gods – a notion also well known from India[16]). When the gods were playing there was peace and happiness, but then three girls come from giant-home to the Ida-plain, cf how in Greek mythology Eris (strife) brings war between gods and men by bringing three goddesses to the Ida-mountain to compete before Paris of Troy.

This was the first civil war: the war between aser and vaner. The vaner gain victory with cunning. A woman called Gullveig (“thirst for gold”) comes among the aser, but she is a witch. The gods try to gash her with their spears and burn her (3 times), but she survives, and she is a fortune-teller, a vølve, and the aser-women are most eager after her services. She makes sejd (practices witchcraft) in ecstasy. According to G.Dumezil, this first war has its parallels in the war with the Sabines in mythical Rome, and Stig Wikander has proved something similar about Nakula and Sahadeva in Mahabharata. The third function is accepted into society only after a war and a reconciliation.

There are two groups of gods: ASER & VANER. The "vaner" are gods for wealth, prosperity and fertility. They have the custom of marriage between brother and sister, and their names are often of the type, Frøj (brother) Freja (sister); Njord (father) has begotten the two with his sister. In Germany the female god Nerthus is known. The word vaner has perhaps some connection with the Latin Venus.

The war with the vaner starts with Odin throwing his spear over the army of the vaner. But the vaner come so close that they break the wall, the breastwork of Asgárd. Peace is brought about by exchanging hostages The vaner Njord, Frøj, Freja and Kvasir come to Asgárd, and Høner and Mimer come to Van-country. Høner was good-looking like a king, but he always had to ask Mimer’s advice. So the Vaner thought that they had been tricked, and that Høner was not a leader among the Aser. And to see if he was able to act without Mimer they cut off the head of Mimer and sent it back. Odin takes the head and preserves it and asks it for advice. (Mimer is the cleverest of all gods).

It seems fair to accept Dumezil's theory about the Aser and Vaner exchanging the 1st and 3rd functions (the ruling function and the food-producing function). The Vaner get a king from the Aser: Hønir, but every time he has to decide in lawsuits at the Ting he wants to ask Mimer. The Aser get Njord: god for sea-faring, fishing, riches, Frøj god for fertility, Freja goddess of love.

Gullveig is in our opinion a variant of the Helene-Kudrun-Svanhild-motif. A woman with the power of witchcraft is treated harshly (Antiope), but is liberated or revenged by her dioscurical sons or brothers: the reason for the attack of the Vaner-army is the maltreatment of Gullveig, and as proved by Åke V.Strøm[17] the Nordic dioscurical pair, hadingjar, are Njord and Frøj with the beautiful sister Freja. (Here they are father and son instead of brothers).

The Aser are warriors; the reason why the Vaner can nearly bring them down on their heels is the sejd, the witchcraft used by the Vaner and connected to the magical marriage of brother and sister, an abominable thing to the Aser – like the acting of man like a woman. There was “so much disturbance of sex connected to this witchcraft that real men do not find it fitting to dabble with it without feeling shame”[18].

The meaning of the myth is the bringing about of the magical unity of manly strength with woman’s magic, the coming together of two main powers in society and numen: the force of war and the necessity of peace and fertility. At first, Gullveig creates great disturbance in Asgárd: “Cast spells where she could… to wicked”. Later the Aser learn sejd from the Vane goddess Freja[19]. With the presence of Freja, female magic is fully integrated, and Thor has to fight the giant who claims Freja as his reward for rebuilding the wall round Asgárd.

 

Only one of the giants survives the flood, cf that before the flood lived the giants, acc. to Gen 6. He is saved floating on a device – perhaps a box (Icel.: luthr), together with his wife.

 

Joseph Feldmann[20] compares Gen 2f. with both Semitic, Egyptian and Indo-European parallels and even parallels from African, Pacific & American traditions. A similar tradition about paradise and the fall of mankind is found not only among the old high-cultures of the Near East but also by the most primitive peoples of the earth. The analogies can be grouped into the following four:

1) The forefathers of the human race were standing in a close relationship to the godhead and lived a life of happiness due to this union.

2) A serious sin against God brought this era to an end (but in many traditions this sin has faded into some act of misunderstanding).

3) A bad power hateful to man was active in this primordial act, bringing about the loss of primordial bliss. This evil power was fought and punished, but not annihilated.

4) God withdrew from man, left the earth. The result was much pain and a life in daily troubles and struggle for food; and death came into the world.

In Nordic religion: There are traces of the Flood killing the giants, the tree of life, the two brothers the good brother being killed, the son of god discovering the beauty of a daughter of a man (Balder-Nanna).

But also the structure worked out by Feldmann can be seen: at the beginning the golden tablets deciding destiny were in the hands of the gods. But a woman belonging to the race of the vaner came, and magic, the art of the androgynous vane-god, was introduced. Odin is not the good god. He has Loki as his dark magic side and Balder as his bright side. Evil magic personified by Loki and his children Fenris and the Midgárdworm becomes very strong. Original sin is the killing of Balder; after that Loki is chased and chained, but the forces of evil are not annihilated.

Certainly the promise of the snake in Gen 3 is the old dream of the yogi and the magician: to acquire secret insights into the nature of both good and evil, a duality transcended in the mystical experience of raising the snake power, thereby becoming god.

 

The universe starts with the two areas of cold-wet: Niflheim towards the North, a world filled with darkness and fog centered around the well Hvergelmir from which several rivers flow - & warm-fire: towards the South Muspelsheim flaming with fire and uninhabited. When the rivers from the north come to a certain distance from the well they stiffen into ice because of venom and fermentation in the venom hidden in the stream. Out of the venom comes vapour stiffening to rime and melting when meeting the warmth from the south and the mild air of Ginnungegab, the empty space between the two poles of heat and coldness. From these poisonous drops of fluid life in the shape of the original giant Ymir is aroused ~“by the help of him who sent the warmth (!)”.

There is also a cow, Audhumla, coming out of the drops, and when it licks the salty rime-covered stones, a human creature, Buri, appears, he has the son Borr, who, with the giant-daughter Bestla, has the 3 sons Odin, Vili and Ve. The name of the cow “without horns” seems to indicate that it is a friendly cow, and the combination original cow/original man Ymir is also known from Iranian cosmology[21]. The licking of the cow and venom from the snake reminds us strongly of the two symbols of totality in Near Eastern pre-historic religion: the bull and the coiled one. Also the name of Ymir = Yama, Yima, is Indo-European for “twin”, Tuisto in Tacitus, Germania 2, here in the meaning of androgynous, twin-sexed.

In both Iranian, Vedic and Nordic religion we find the strange notion of a magical mystery of world-creation by killing a great bull or a giant:

In India Purusa & primeval cow. In Iran Gayomart & primeval bull. In Edda Ymir & the cow Audhumla.

In Iran, when the primeval bull is killed by Ahriman, 55 different sorts of grain sprang from its body, cf the 3 ears of corn coming out of the bull when killed by Mithras.

Certainly these myths are different variations of a “Urmythus” from “arischer Urzeit”[22]. F.R. Schröder[23] thinks it is a cult-myth sprung from the belief in the magical power of the offering of a human victim. But the double nature of primeval reality as man and bull goes back to the early agricultural religion of Inner Anatolia, where the highgod is both god and bull and primeval mystical unity cut up by creation.

The inner meaning of the myth of Ymir is not to be found in the killing of a human victim but in primitive pantheistic mysticism. The mystical body of the highgod is everywhere. He is reality itself and the life forces in it. The life-giving grain can only come from his body. He is the unity of male and female[24].

       Common to Indo-European myth is the creation of cosmos or society by the dismemberment and scattering of a primordial giant or king.[25] A Roman tradition suggests the death of Romolus by his being dismembered by the senators: “But others conjecture that the senators rose up against him and dismembered him in the temple of Hephaistos, distributing his body, and each one putting a piece in the folds of his robes in order to carry them away”[26], ”and afterwards he buried that (piece) in the earth”[27]. The Nordic myth of creation tells about the three sons of Bor creating cosmos out of Ymir´s body, and acc. to an Iranian text, Zad Spram 3,42ff., the primordial ox was killed by Ahriman, the Evil Spirit, in a cosmogonic assault, and out of the body fluids, marrow and blood 57 grains and 12 herbs were created, providing food and healing for mankind.

       Acc. to L.L.Hammerich[28] an important information brought to us by Tacitus has to be translated in the following way:

       They say that the Semnones are the oldest and most noble of the Suebi. This belief is confirmed in a religious ceremony of ancient times. At a fixed time, all the people of the same blood come together by legations in a wood that is consecrated by the signs of their (ancestral) fathers and by an ancient dread. Barbaric rites celebrate the horrific origins, through the sacrifice (caesa, lit. “dismemberment”) of a man for the public good (or: ”in public”)…

       There the belief (superstitio) of all looks backward (to the primordial past), as if from that spot there were the origins of the race. The god who is ruler of all things is there. Others are inferior and subservient.

       Behind all this is a very ancient myth about the highest god of primordial times (either seen as bull or macr´anthropos) being killed and dismembered as a symbol of primordial unity being scattered.

 

The dragon Nidhug gnawing on the third root of the world-pillar Yggdrasill has its nest in Hvergelmir. Its hostility to the world-pillar proves that it wants to draw the world back into primordial unshaped totality.

 

 

The world-pillar

 

Some of the coins from Hedeby have an important motif:

 

The first coin shows a temple and two coiling snakes approaching the temple door. Their heads have a very special design: the eyes are two big balls on each side of a jaw drawn out almost to a kind of beak. A similar design is seen on the device standing between the snakes: two eyes on each side of a pointed beak. It is a symbol of mystical ecstasy, of two becoming one, the double-snake united. On the corners of the roof are dragon-head decorations. But in an odd way they are turned back. Instead of apothropaeic guardians of the roof they are turned into contemplators of the big head on the top of the roof. This head is the personification of the world-pillar. This world-pillar is the motif of the second coin. We recognize the head contemplated by the two snakes. Under it can be seen the three heavens and the world-pillar made as a device, first as a double union of four into one, and then the union of two into one single beam. To the right and left the mystical sign of four becoming one: the cross.

Now it becomes clear why Christ on the cross in this early period is so dominated by the cross-design that his arms and legs are perfectly straight.

The Saxons honoured a giant trunk erected in open air and called it Irminsul, in Latin “universalis columna[29].

The drawings of the two coins, but not the interpretation, are taken from S.Nancke-Krogh, Shamanens hest,1992[30]. This remarkable book offers a multitude of new interpretations. We are not able to evaluate them all. Important is the stress put on archaic symbols of ecstasy and the travel of the shaman to the top of heaven, a goal only reached by a union with his female counterpart. Even the macr’anthropos-speculation so typical for classical mysticism is found by Nancke-Krogh on ancient rock carvings[31].

Some kind of mystical flower is also ejaculated by a dying stag on a coin from Hedeby (800 A.D.). The kundalini-snake is seen falling from the neck of the stag, and another snake is coiling round itself, stinging the stag in its hoof (ill. from Nancke-Krogh).

A very interesting book with a large collection of iconographic material is Søren Nancke-Krogh, Stenbilleder, 1995 (about stone pictures in early Danish churches). Nancke-Krogh thinks that the Danes were Christians long before St.Ansgar built his first church in Hedeby 850. They belonged to a Manichean tradition similar to the Bogomil movement in Yugoslavia. But this theory has no support in the saga-tradition. And the many symbols of ecstasy could also be explained as a survival of old folk religion.

One of them is the third eye inscribed in a triangle on the forehead of one of the three faces of a stone idol found at Glejbjerg, Astrup parish[32]. Another is the centaur with horseback, forelegs of a lion, a human head and hands holding a snake in the left hand, looking into the eyes of the snake. The centaur is according to Nancke-Krogh, an archaic shamanistic symbol of extra power by adding the power of the animal to man[33].

Another centaur is in our opinion more of a lion-man: a lion, but in exchange for the lion's head and neck, the body of an armed man with sword and shield and helmet. Of special interest is the tail of the lion: in a way very typical of most of the many lions of the stonepictures, the tail is squeezed in between the two legs, it comes out underneath the animal's belly, and ascends above the back of the animal where it unfolds into a very big lotus[34]. The peculiar position of the tail is perhaps (?) a symbol of a force rising from the genitals, a transformed sexual energy. On one variation of the lion-symbol the tail ends in the mystical plant of life, but in most of the pictures the tail's end is transformed into a rather voluptuous symbol of vegetation. In Agedrup church by Odense we find the old classical motif of the man (here reduced to an idol) between two tamed lions (licking his face). On another stone he is seen taming the two lions by grabbing their tails and lifting them up from the ground. He is naked and has a marked erection[35].

On the walls of the church at Tømmerby the great hunter is shown hunting the stag. He is being helped by two dogs and a panther with a human face. Acc to Nancke-Krogh this animal is grabbing the end of the great dragon-headed club[36]. The panther giving the great hunter the strength to kill is the old prehistoric motif. Along the back of the panther is a curly thing: the symbol of kundalini ascending.

The stag is seen running towards a strange animal, a rooster with a tail consisting of a snake's body coiled together into a cross-like symbol. We know this fusion of sun-bird and snake from the Jao-symbol and the Phoenix: it is the symbol of mystical totality, all difference and duality coming into one, it is the symbol of mystic vision "hunted down" by the ecstatic. The baptismal font in Lihme church shows the hunter being led by the fleeing stag to the holy tree of life[37].

 

 

Svanhild

 

In the 8th book, Saxo brings a tragic story about the beautiful queen, Svanhild, who is trampled to death by horses on the command of her husband, Jarmerik, but is revenged by four “Hellespontic brothers”, cf the Anglo Saxon tradition about Swana and her two brothers, Hengist and Horsa. She is identical with the Sunhilda, who, acc. to Jordanes at the command of Ermanaric, is torn to pieces, but is revenged by her two brothers[38].

Ermanaric is king of a large territory reaching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, but his rule breaks down when the Huns attack. There is no doubt that his name is connected with Irminsul, the world pillar, and this is depicted in the artificial building he has erected on a tall rock: below a mound of turf, in the middle rooms, and on top a parapet, whose battlements were decorated on all sides with shields glittering like gold. Four large gates emphasize its character of cosmic imago. While storming the tower, the brothers are assisted by Gudrun, the sorceress. They tear up the gateposts and die covered with stones, but only after having cut off the arms and legs of Jarmerik, so that the torso was rolling around among the dead bodies. Here the legend is a kind of Twilight of the Gods-myth. The world pillar is cut down, and the world returns to its amorpheus state symbolized by the helpless lump to which the king has been reduced. All die: the goddess, the god, the Dioscouric helpers, and Broder (“brother”) assumed the Royal power, cf the two brothers who get the power on the reborn earth after the Twilight of the Gods. In Jordanes´ version the assault of the Huns is the end of the world.

 

 

King Hading

 

As a boy Hading is living in a kind af female sphere deeply attached to his foster mother Hartgrepe who even tries to offer herself to him as mistress. Dressed as a man she tries to accompany him on his journey back to Denmark. She is a very skilful sorceress who makes galdr. But by that she has challenged dark forces and is torn to pieces by demons. (She is the androgynous magician breaking normal morals by the incestuous behaviour of the vane-gods).

Hading now meets an old one-eyed man, who feels very sorry for him because "he was so lonely”. It is true what G.Dumezil has shown that Hading is moving from the androgynous sphere of the vane-gods to the manly sphere of Odin. The old one-eyed man takes him to a sailor Liser and he has to follow this viking by becoming his blood-brother and joining him in his war with Lokker. The dioscuric names of Liser and Lokker show that Hading has come from unity/totality to the sphere of duality and strife. He eats lion’s flesh and becomes very strong. But his many defeats are due to the fact that he is a hero connected with fire and light, a fighting Odin-hero never in balance. With the coming of spring he goes to Sweden, but suffers hunger and privation. He is all heat and light[39]. Fire is Odin's element, and therefore he has to be punished as he kills his opposite, a water-god, during a swim to cool himself in the cold water. As atonement for that he has to offer black cattle to Frej, for where poor Hading shows his face everything gets off balance. At last he has to fly from Uppsala one dark night having lost all his men. Reality is always tending towards balance, symbolized by two mysterious voices heard in the night and foretelling a big slaughter of Danes followed by a similar slaughter of Swedes. A vision is seen of two bald men fighting each other. The endless fights of the Odin-hero are a tragedy when reality is always tending towards balance: the victor of today will suffer defeat tomorrow.

At last Hading understands the necessity of balance and puts the brother of his enemy on the throne as king. When this man suffers the typical death of the vane-god of fertility, drowning (being dissolved) in the big vat of beer, Hading takes his own life by hanging (strangulating) himself, the typical death of Odin.

The vane-god is the god of fertility and peace. Odin is the god of death and fire: all that is burnt on the funeral bon-fire goes through the fire to Valhal acc to Snorre's description of Odin.

The two kings following each other in death are the great contrast to the two kings fighting each other, trying to destroy each other (Uffe & Hading). The final harmony between the vane-king and the Odin-king is a harmony between two divine principles. The same motif is played through with the women in the story. The original unity between female and male is torn up dramatically with the tearing up of Hartgrepe, and Hading is lonesome. The total disharmony between male and female is represented by the Odin sphere: Odin flies from the totally disloyal wife Frigg, and only returns after her death. The contrast is Queen Gunhild following her husband even in his death as the picture of total faithfulness. A new crisis comes up because of the daughter Ulfhild (“war-wolf”) and her plans to murder her father, but Hading is warned by the spirit of the dead wife.

Hading is right from his childhood given to manly virtues: ”He despised carnal lust and was always only thinking on war and raiding.” This masculine soul Hartgrepe tried to soften. She complains about his strange thinking, only brooding on fighting, and with no sense for woman: surely the main motif of the whole story is harmony between male and female nature, light and darkness, Odin-sphere and Vane-sphere

Saxo tells us that Dan and Angel did not bear the name of king. Kingdom is first introduced by the sons of Dan: Humble and Loter. Humble was the first to be hailed as king standing on a stone at the ting. However he was not able to stay in power, but had to pass it on to his brother. But Loter was cruel & full of high thoughts about himself and developed into a bloody tyrant so he was forced to leave the throne. The purpose of this tradition presented by Saxo is to describe the crises of kingship when founded in the human sphere. After a time of chaos the kingship is founded again by the gods. G.Dumezil[40] has shown that the next 4 kings, Skjold, Gram, Hading and Frode are identical with Odin, Thor, Njord og Frøj. As further proof of Dumezil's findings we might mention that Skjold is depicted as the “great hunter”, not as a lion-dompteur, but more in accordance with Scandinavian fauna as “bear-dompteur”, catching a bear with his bare hands and a belt. Thereby he proves himself an incarnation of the “big hunter”, in Nordic mythology represented by Odin leading “the wild hunt” of dead souls and demons mixing with the horde of wolf warriors and “berserks”, ecstatic warriors transformed into bears.

Haddingjar is the name of the Nordic dioscuri[41]. They are Vane-gods belonging to the third race mentioned by Saxo 1,7, of mixed descent, not so strong as the giants, not so full of supernatural power as the gods. Cf that Hading has giants as his foster-parents. Like Njord he has to leave the incestuous marriage of the Vanegods to stay with Odin.

 

 

A Swedish Cosmogony

 

The constant tension between duality and totality is characteristic of cosmogonies. Snorre's version of the Ynglingesaga, which, among other things, is based on a poem by Thjodolf of Kvine, first tells about Fjølner who drowns in the mead vessel (the god whose life-force is dissolved in the intoxicating drink). Then Svegder, who with a train of 12 travels around the world to find the way back to Gudhjem (“Home of Gods”): the sun-hero finding his way to paradise by following the roads of the sun. At the end he becomes one with the primeval rock, the stone stele: by a dwarf he is lured into a large stone (the original meaning of this motif is no longer understood).

A couple of generations later we hear about Alrik and Erik, the dioscuric pair. Being equally strong, they kill each other and are succeeded by Ynge (Yngve) and Alf (personifications of the vanes and the elves.) An interregnum by the pirates Hake and Hagbard is followed by the brothers Erik and Jørund regaining the kingdom after this time of chaos.

Also King Snow, Princess Drift and Prince Fire are mentioned as adversaries of the Uppsala-kingdom. The cosmogony culminates in Anund, "the Roadmaster"s creation of smooth roads everywhere. It is characteristic that he dies when “the mountains take revenge” on him who so often cleared the way through them: in a deep sunken road he and his men are buried by an avalanche.

The Swedish kings told about in Ynglingesaga are seen as contrasting pairs:

Fjølner and Svegder.

Vanland and Visbur (both killed by magic), Domald (killed as an offering), Domar (dying in bed), Dygge (dying in bed), Dag (killed in war).

Dygge was the first to call himself king, Dag was a war-king and the first (?) to call himself by the name of the war-kings: Gram (= “grim”).

Alrik and Erik (killing each other).

Ynge (great war-king) and Alf (liked to go to bed early) killing each other.

The pirates Hake and Hagbard: the chaos-king dies in a great bonfire on board his ship leaving Uppsala. After the chaos-king Hake, Jørund becomes king, and he is the first personification of the law of retaliation (karma). He takes the ship of king Gudlog of Hålogaland in Norway and hangs the king in a gallows. Many years later he is attacked by Gudlog's son Gylog and hanged in a gallows.

Most despised is Øn who tries to survive death by bringing his sons as an offering to Odin. Finally he is so old that he has to lie in bed constantly and suck milk from a horn. Typical personifications of chaos is Hugleik surrounding himself with musicians and magicians and Tønnes taking power by means of criminals and slaves.

When man chooses his religion one can only hope and pray that he chooses an ethical religion. The Danish historian, Erik Kjersgaard, does not believe in the modern myth of “the peaceful Viking as the bold tradesman and the peace loving farmer. It was a hard and violent time, a time for warriors lusting for fight and looting, a merciless hunt for riches, and an absurd fascination of bloodshed and plundering, and in the midst of all that a longing for something else: a death without fear”[42].

An English historian[43] has gone through letters written by ordinary soldiers to their families and discovered the ecstasy of the battlefield, the joy and kick felt by men in war. They get high in the middle of the slaughtering. It is blood and pain, and it is sickening, but it is also the ultimate excitement. It is the fascination of hooliganism, adrenaline pumping, aggression let out. These dark sides of man have been ignored by many modern authors and left-wing historians believing in evolution. They are the darker side of man being cultivated in the cult of the wild hunter leading the army of dead souls and demons and the living, howling like wolves eager to kill.

Life in the Viking age was dull, boring to the extreme. Farm-work was hard and monotonous, life was short, and old age filled with misery. Who can judge them for wanting something more: going far away behind the most distant mountains to see the marvels of the deep East or West, not lusting for old age, but for intensity and adventure.

Only the spiritual longing of Christianity could overcome this lust for danger and early death. For Middle Age “Norman” Christianity life was also a journey: the long road to paradise – and a fight: the constant fight between good and evil. The mythological Swedish king Svegder devoted his whole life to seeking the road to Gudhjem[44].

It is a little painful to read historians trying to underline the many peaceful skills of the Vikings as tradesmen, carpenters, and farmers. They were ruthless killers more than anything else. Their highest goal was to go down fighting, die on the battlefield, only one goal ranked even higher: to make others die on the battlefield.

Old prehistoric motifs known from left hand tantra in modern India can be traced. Not only Odin was the receiver of dead souls, also Freja. Death is overcome by the magic of the sexual act. When the Viking chief is burned in Russia, his slave mistress has to follow in some kind of androgynous union. As the poor deceased is unable to make this particular magic work, his friends have to perform the orgiastic “tantra”, all having intercourse with the girl destined to be killed by an old female magician. The female magician and the androgynous thinking (Frøj-Freja, Njord-Nerthus) show that we are in the field of the magic of the vaner.

But the most common hope was in Odin and Valhalla. When Odin puts on his shining helmet in the final battle of Ragnarok, he is the leader of the forces of good against evil and darkness.[45] But Odin is a tragic leader against the demons because he has accepted the demon wolf-warrior ideology as a part of his own nature (he is always followed by his two wolves), and this will finally destroy him: he will be swallowed up by the Fenris-wolf, a personification of the demonic wolf-nature. Thor is the good fighter without the dark sides. You can see through him. Therefore his son will kill the wolf.

The war-god, Tyr, has nursed the Fenris when it was still a cub, giving it food. Also Tyr has some fatal involvement with the magic of the wolf-warriors, and is finally maimed by the wolf. This war-god and ting-god is a rather tragic figure, without his right hand to grasp the sword and lift when taking the oath. He broke his promise to the wolf that nobody would harm it, and therefore he had to lose his right arm.

Also Frøj, the god of fertility, has tragedy hanging over his destiny: he gave away his sword for a beautiful demon girl, and in the final battle he will be without the sword when he has to fight his final duel with Surt.

 

 

Frotho I (Saxo 2nd book)

 

The sun-hero must start his life by killing the snake or dragon representing primordial totality. The snake is situated on a mythological island, where it is the owner of much gold, the golden paradise mountain. The sun-hero goes to the mountain to conquer the gold of the sun's halo. He then goes conquering in the route of the sun to the Far East where he conquers Russia and claims his wife, to the deep South, where he goes down the Rhine to the farthest border of Germany, to the Far West to England and Scotland. He goes back to Denmark where he is invited to celebrate a feast with Skate (familiar to the Greek word skotia = darkness, a personification of the rule of winter and darkness). He is enthroned on a gold-embroidered carpet, and is always eating food powdered with gold dust.

Frotho is Frej, and his sister Swanwhite is Freja. She is the only one who can match his cunning, and she inflicts a grave defeat on his navy. But they are reconciled, and by this reconciliation his strength is restored. There is a clear notion of Frej and Freja as the two poles that must be in counterbalance and peace to give strength.

The dragon-fight on the island is repeated by the hero, Fridlev[46]. The monster is attacked as it is coming up from the water. Frotho attacks as it comes back from drinking water. It is closely connected to this element.

By its coiling it throws up the earth into two hills with a valley in between: the primordial island/mountain is cleft in two, allowing the sun to pass.

Fridlev gives his son and wife to the great bowman, An, at New Year's time. This leaving wife & son to another is, as we have seen, a very typical kingship-of-heaven motif. (The hunter takes the wives of the highgod).

On the Jelling-stone the god of life is pictured as the cross, the tree of life, encircled by vegetation-runners. He makes room for light and life by forcing the coils of a double snake from each other, coils sent out by the dragon seen on another part of the stonesurface.

 

 

Ill. by Gudmund Hentze, Saxo Grammaticus, fordansket ved Grundtvig

 

 

Starkathr, the typical sun hero

 

Like the sun he is born in the Far East and turns up on the arena as the sole survivor after at shipwreck[47]. He has six arms like an Indian god, and his unknown origin stresses his supernatural character. By using a secret path he is able to travel the same distance on a single day as normal men would need 12 days to accomplish. This speed is repeated later on a journey from Uppsala to Denmark “in a single breath of air”. He walks with the two poles of the typical sun hero in his hands. Finally he is killed by the hunter Had, who was out hunting together with his dogs.

As Heracles by the crossroad has to choose between vice and virtue[48] so Starcathr composes many poems in defence and praise of the old martial virtues of the North against modern lust, gluttony and luxuriance. He has the life span of three men, fights in the Far West (Ireland), in the High North (the area around the White Sea), in east (Russia) and in south (Byzans, Poland, Saxonia).

His fight with the hunter is Starcathr´s killing Ole[49]. Ole has the light-emitting eyes of the ecstatic (the eyes of Orion, the Horus-eye). As we have seen above the light-emitting eye is dependant on sexual abstinence. Ole has a son, but nevertheless a kind of wound in the vital organ is hinted at. In a particular wild forest he has to fight with two giants. He is able to kill them both, but with their last strength already brought to their knees they are able to inflict a wound on Ole’s foreparts, and the hero would have died of it had not his faithful dog, which followed him everywhere, cleaned it by licking it.

That Ole´s adversaries are the high god and his son is seen from the fact that he has to cross a rushing “river of death” to come to their large stables.

Ole comes to power by tricking the warriors into helping him, by acting as a beggar’s king. He is the king of chaos. He becomes a very cruel and unjust ruler. He started with killing 12 warriors led by Hjale and Skate (Hjale means “Christmas” – “(h)jul” in Danish, and Skate means “darkness”) and are finally dethroned by 12 chiefs. He is king of the chaotic New Year's feast between two years.

 

 

27.a. A Nordic Yoga master

 

On the great silver bowl found at Gundestrup in Denmark 1891 there is a wealth of motifs. On the outside: busts of different gods, originally 8. On the inside: 5 scenes, obviously of some religious acts. One of them shows a god sitting in a typical yoga-posture. He carries on his head the splendid crown of a stag with seven antlers[50]. He is sitting as a yoga-master with stag and bull at his right hand and hunting dog and snake at his left. This symbolism of right and left is not accidental. He is the god of ecstasy, in the right corner of the scene a man is seen riding on the back of a dolphin over a fearful sea guarded by lions to meet the divine bull. In the bottom of the bowl is seen the divine bull hunted down by 3 dogs and a warrior with sword in his hand. Its horns are damaged and must be added to the scene. On its forehead is a beautiful twisted rosette, the symbol of all diversity being united into the mystical center. This symbol is fastened to the top of a column with its base in the crescent moon. This symbol, the crescent moon, was exactly the symbol resting at the bottom of the bowl when the horns of the bull were still undamaged. The Gundestrup-bowl is the sacred cup of the moon containing the mystical drink of immortality made from the blood/life-fluid of the divine bull leading to ecstasy and mystical vision. The hunt becomes a religious symbol of the seeking of ultimate reality and ecstasy. Note that the hunter is androgynous. He has the breasts of a woman and the spurs of a man on his heals, and he is shown in a posture indicating jumping or floating through the air.

The snake with the spiraling horns of a ram in the god's left hand is the kundalini-symbol ascending to vision of the face of the god. Both the stag, ram, and bull are symbols of the highgod. When it ascends to its highest position, the kundalini-force receives the horns of the highgod.    

The hunting and vision of Sct.Hubertus is the vision of ultimate reality, the vision of the highgod as the suffering god of vegetation and sacrifice, and this vision was given to bishop Hubertus on Good Friday.

 

   

 

 

 

27b. An Interpretation of the Golden Horns found in South Jutland

 

The bird eating of the fish and the fisherman carrying the fish in a line are so typical of the pre-historic Near Eastern iconography that it justifies our search in this direction for former parallels: The wild hunt with the dead spirits mixing with the living warriors and dogs and demons in chasing the divine stag is the holy symbol of the upper ring, the two horned men being supernatural guardian spirits for the twin-warriors, their “fylgje”.

But notice that the stag is more a mystical symbol being chased not killed. And by the chase some dog-like demons are brought to death (death is always shown by the animal sticking its tongue out.)

 

 

It seems rather clear that the horns are used in some cult of ecstatic warriordom: Man being changed to wolf or perhaps rather bird. As pharaoh wins his victory by the magic snake-power raised and attacking from his forehead, so also this cult has its notion of a dragon-power strong and chaotic.

 

 

 

The snake-power is omnipresent like a spiritual force coiling around the warriors.

 

Two bird-masked warriors fighting.

 

Many twins and pairs of brothers dominate the beginning of history acc. to both Saxo and Snorre and Philo of Byblos. They stand contrasting each other or supplementing each other – even on the shorter Goldhorn. On the lowest ring one is keeping his body in balance, the other fighting his body. On the highest ring they look so similar, but a number of details show that they are contrasting twins. One has a scarf with a horizontal stripe, the other a scarf with 4 vertical stripes. On one hero is seen two discs surrounded by beams of light, on the other two discs without beams. The shields are also different like the stars above their heads. On the ring in the middle the two brothers form a cross, the symbol of totality, of the four cardinal points being united into one. Like the dioscuric pair Erik and Alrik mentioned by Snorre who were fond of horses and killed each other with the horse bridles they are pictured as horsemen, one even united to his horse becoming a centaur. To the right we se them united in the symbol in Saxon called “Hengist and Horsa”, III.

The twins form an interesting system of Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis. They are duality sometimes coming together in harmony, sometimes striving apart from each other. To our opinion the same structure is behind the myth of the death of Balder. Høder and Balder are the two sons of Odin, representing light and darkness but being in some kind of primeval balance. A balance broken by the death of Balder, but re-established by the return of both Balder and Høder from Hel in the new world rising from Ragnarok.

 

 

By the one killing the other primeval unity is broken. The same is shown by the dying stag and the sign hanging over the mouth of the coiled snake (coiled 3 and 1/2 times around itself). According to a Danish author, Gunnar Sneum[51] it is a broken heart. He refers to a Swedish author who has shown the heart symbol  to be a very old symbol of two united to one. What is hanging over the gap of the big snake is the two parts of a broken heart turned away from each other and kept apart by a spearhead.

 

The bird tasting the fish is a very old symbol common to the prehistoric cultures of the Middle East. We have judged it a symbol of a fish-orgy giving ecstasy to the participants the bird being the symbol of flying and ecstatic flight. Therefore the snake being sucked by two minor snakes and the hind being sucked are symbols of an ecstatic state caused by a drink offered by the godmother whose epiphany is the hind. It is the drink for which Hlewagastir made the horn as the inscription runs.

 

 

 

Sneum is the first one to have brought in the Indian notion of the kundalini-snake to explain the snake standing on its tail with a pearl in its mouth, the snake coiled around itself and (on the longer cone/ the other horn) the small man in a very curious attitude between two snakes unfolding from a coiled position to a position standing on their tails. This man is rightly seen by Sneum as flying/floating.

Alas Sneum is overdoing his case by seeing direct parallels to the Indian Sankhya-speculation. To use his own language he finds an “old heathen world-religion” centered around samsara, moksha, reincarnation, samadhi in the old Nordic world of symbols (rock carvings, the Gundestrup bowl, etc.) This is certainly going to far. But no doubt he is right in his interpretation of the snake symbolism of both horns. On the longer horn he rightly calls our attention to the snake coiling around its opposite:

 

 

(Perhaps even the 7 chakras are marked by the 7 flowers)

 

 

The use of modern gurus, Vivekananda and the “Gyllingnæs-swami” Narayanananda, and even Søren Kirkegaard shows that Sneum is more the ardent searcher for an old “pantheistic philosophy” as he calls it than the careful user of religiohistorical method.

 

 The twins are the first appearance of duality in the primeval unity. Their old universal symbol is the two sticks: the gate of the sun, in Sparta called the DOKANA-symbol:

 

The world pillar or world-mountain divided into two makes room in the primordial massive for the sun to run its course. The primordial massive is also thereby divided into heaven and earth by the two pillars lifting the vault of heaven. The symbolism of the twins is a key to many scenes on the long horn. First we find on it the Gate of the Sun. The parish-parson Jørgen Sorterup has 1717 criticized Worm for his drawing of the motif on the first ring as two bones with a row of hearts underneath. They are only sticks and the hearts are not hearts. Mackeprang[52] has shown that the two square attachments both with 3 small discs are traces of an arrangement for fastening a carrying chain, the other end of the chain being fastened to ring no 7. The row of triangles on both ring no.1 and no. 2 (not hearts) are marking the foundation[53] = the earth. The two sticks are a gate, the gate of the sun being erected in a universe of primordial waters. The animals with their tails intertwined to the symbol of the heart are[54] dolphins and in this posture they are symbols of unity, primordial monad: duality intertwined to form amorphous unity. In this amorphous matter creation starts with setting up the gate of the sun.

 

The upper and lower waters are seen united filling out the space between heaven and earth both marked with a line of triangles:

 

  

 

On ring no.2 the two primordial pillars are changed into another duality, the duality between the pillar of fire and the pillar of vegetation, the cosmic pillar of fire with the sun and a big star at the top and the pillar of vegetation, the world tree still seen as a sapling, a stylised acanthus, a symbol well known from Gaulle-Roman reliefs[55].

 

Also in Tyre we have the twins Hypsouranios and Usoos and the two pillars, one of gold and one of green sapphire, symbols of the fire and the wind (bringing rain and vegetation). They are also pictured as the fire-alter and the world tree on many coins from Tyre. Also in Rome we have the god of the gate Janus as the incarnation of all beginning and the twins brought up as wolf-cubs. They are city founding twins: Romolus of Rome and Usoos of East-Tyre called Usu. On ring no.2 the dogs are wolves saluting the sun, are the twins brought up as wolf-warriors. As noticed by Brix the left with its short tail looks like the left wolf attacking the bull the right with a long tail looks like the right monster attacking the bull and even like the head of the right masked warrior attacking his brother, notice that both the last mentioned have no ears: with small means they are set out as contrasting twins (long tail contra short, ears – no ears, curved sword contra axe – and even when shown fused together into a cross-composition one carries a pearl in the right hand,  the other in the left hand. That one is left-handed, the other right-handed can also be seen from ring no.3, where they are pulling in some kind of quadrangular object perhaps trying to make the inhabited part of the earth bigger surrounded by a sea full of big water snakes[56].

 

How is it that the two pillars representing the first state of duality emerging out of unity can also be seen as the pillar of fire and the pillar of vegetation? Of course they are opposites: vegetation filled with life-juice cannot burn and wither when temperature is rising. But they have also something in common: when lit the fire stretches its long flames upward against the sky and in this reaching for the sky it is quite similar to the tree, both form a pillar reaching for the sky.

 

 

The mystical cross-flower is also seen over the head of the divine bull.

 

  

 

 

The longer horn obviously carries some of the same motifs as the shorter. The shooting of the roe on the longer followed by a person offering a drinking-horn. This goes well together with the parallel motif on the shorter horn, where the shooting is of a roe offering the mystical drink to her calf. The 3-headed god with the goat must be Odin (often seen as a trinity) with the giver of divine mead.

The purpose of an orgy is to call on the forces of the netherworld, here seen as a horse or dog with human head joining the fishmeal. Even the lion- or sphinx-dompteur-motif is seen: a man has put a ribbon on the little demon changing it to a helping spirit:

 

 

In Edda we find the strange poem “The Flyting of Loki”: the Gods are invited to the feast of the sea-god Aegir. Suddenly the mischievous Loki kills one of Aegir's servants. – He is driven away but comes back and starts a dialogue with the gods who one by one are brought to silence by Loki revealing their sins and hidden faults. The gods are paired in some androgynous order. They seek ecstatic joy in a union of male and female. But Loki comes in as the darker side of the ecstasy, representing violence and sudden outburst of black feelings and hate.

Somehow this poem is a rather late remnant of the old “fish-orgy”, a feast given to chaos and ecstasy, given by the sea-god. By letting Loki dominate and getting the last word, the poem seems very critical to the old tradition of the feast of Aegir.

On ring no.5 we find a centaur with one arm raised and over his head the union of twins both with one arm raised in the same position. The centaur’s left arm is lowered in the same position as the fighting warriors. By this posture the centaur is shown as pointing to both scenes: The ecstatic union of duality and the splitting up into duality: One being helped by a protecting spirit, the other by the kundalini snake raised along his backbone.

On ring no.6 the big hunter hunts the divine doe to get the juice of immortality. Its symbol is the two spirits intertwined. It is the ecstatic hunt. First he has to control his own body (by being hard on it) and control the ecstatic flight symbolised by a man riding a fast-running horse with his head dramatically turned upward.

The centaur is also seen on ring no.7 playing with a ball and even juggling with a club. In the last scene the centaur is bound with a collar round the neck. The centaurs are spirits from the underworld, a demon, and his being bound and tamed is a symbol of the magician's and the wolf-warrior’s ability to subdue demonic forces, be familiar with them, play with them and make them serve him.

On the short horn the wolves are dogs, mostly two in each scene with a third, a demon-dog hunting in the same pack: the dogs are of two kinds living and dead spirit-dogs (the tongue sticking out). By the hunt on the stag two spirit-dogs are pushed aside. Two other spirit-dogs have to submit to the two twin warriors and their fylgje.

 

 

Harald and Halvdan[57] is a pair of Nordic Dioscuroi. They have to hide in the forest inside a big hollow tree, and later they have to act crazy to avoid being killed. They are the son(s) of the god of vegetation hiding from the king of chaos. They are brought up as wolves: they fasten claws of a wolf to their foot soles; they live in the forest and are called by dog-names. Their foster father who brings them food tells everybody that he is feeding some dogs. Although brought up as a wolf-warrior, Halvdan also has to fight an ecstatic warrior-type going wild: The seven sons of Sivald howling, biting their shields, swallowing burning charcoal, leaping through fire. And later the giant Hardben with his 12 warriors: Hardben has the same ecstatic invulnerability against fire and burning coal and a taste for raping high ranking-women. As the lord of vegetation Halvdan fights with an uprooted oak tree as his weapon. After his first fight he has to take shelter in Northern Sweden by a very wise warrior called Vitolf (“Wise Wolf”). Halvdan is opposed to Frotho V and his son Erik (a variation of Frotho III and his constant helper Erik). Frotho-Frøj is normally the god of fertility, but here also acting as a god of chaos. After his interregnum he is burnt alive and Erik like Dionysos is torn up by wild animals.

G.Dumézil has shown the existence in Indo-European religions of an ecstatic warrior type[58] fighting and killing a triple enemy or an enemy with 3 heads (Rome, Greece, India) and after the fight being so heated that he has to be cooled down (Ireland). Dumézil thinks this type is connected to an initiation, but it seems more likely that it is the old prehistoric pattern of the ecstatic hunter killing the trinity of the highgod.

On the shorter horn there is a 3-headed god with a goat and an axe. He is not the direct target of any attack.

If he is Odin with the magic mead he is a parallel to the bearded figure with the great horn on the longer horn. He is the spender of a drink of immortality as also the doe and the snake giving milk to their little ones. So actually he is a parallel to the doe killed by the bow armed hunter. The killing of the divine stag is the setting free of juice of life.

This drink of immortality is linked to the fish orgy by showing one of the fishes with a sort of inner container, a kind of bladder. The same container is shown inside the otter. In Nordic mythology the great bowl containing the drink of the gods belongs to the sea god Aegir and is won by Thor after his going fishing with the giant Hymer, killing his black bull and nearly killing the snake, the Midgards-worm. The big container has to be wrestled out of the mystical sphere of the kundalini-snake and primordial sea after killing the divine bull.

 

 

The Austrian folklorist Otto Höfler[59] showed the existence of “wolf-warriors”, frenzied martial bands. Alfred Rosenberg, the chief philosopher at the Nazi-party, was not satisfied and thought this ecstatic warrior ideology would make Nazism appear ridiculous.[60] Rosenberg’s enmity, however, gained Höfler the support of Himmler, who made him join the SS Ahnenerbe division and secured for him a chair as professor of German philosophy at Munich. The young Swedish student of Indo-Iranian religion S.Wikander proved the same phenomenon among Iranian warriors[61], and shortly after defending his thesis at the University of Uppsala he left for Munich to prepare the German text of      his book while attending Höfler’s “Werewolf-Seminar”. No Germanist was more influential on George Dumézil than Höfler. Dumezil, Wikander and the Swedish professors Geo Widengren and Åke W.Ström formed an important group of younger scientists set on digging out the roots of old Arian Religion. Widengren was a decorated participant in the Finnish Civil War, officer of the reserve exercising on horseback in the streets of Uppsala. His final work on Old Arian warrior ideology is the splendid book Der Feudalismus im alten Iran. Mãnnerbund- Gefolgswesen, Feudalismus in der iranischen Gesellschaft im Hinblick auf die indogermanische Verhältnisse, 1969. Ström’s final work is his contribution to the series Die Religionen der Menschheit Bd 19, 1, Germanische Religion, 1975. Following Dumézil and the Swedish author Viktor Rudberg, Undersökninger i germanisk mythologi, I-II, 1886-9, Ström is able to prove a lot of motifs common to Germanic and Vedic religion – even suttee, the burning of the faithful widow (pp.184f.). Ström does not mention reincarnation, but certainly Sct. Olaf was seen as the reincarnation of the viking king Olaf the Stout[62].

O.Höfler has rightly seen that the change of man into demon is the main characteristic of these secret warrior bands. He calls them "dämonische Verwandlungskulte"[63] and has already suggested that the mysteries of Mithras with their seven grades among which are raven and lion have to be seen on this background[64]. The holy drink enjoyed in the caves situated deep in the underground is a drink for dragons and snakes, for arousing the snake power, see the jar below from Römisch-Germanisches Museum in Cologne.

It must be stressed that these warrior bands were a constant threat to society. They are the warriors sprouting from the dragon teeth sown by Kadmos in Thebes. Kadmos very sensibly makes them kill each other.

 

 

 

Photo by the author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] See the texts transl. by A.Hultgård in: G.Widengren, A.Hultgård, M.Philonenko, Apocalyptique Iranienne et Dualisme Qoumranien, 1995, pp.110 ~21

[2] Ström-Biezais, Germanische und Baltische Religion, 1975, pp.125ff.

[3] Suffridus Petrus, De Fris. Antiq. et Orig. II, 15

[4] The Divine Twins, 1968, pp.60-70

[5] "Der germanische Totenkult und die Sagen vom Wilden Heer", Oberdeutsche Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 1936, 10, 33-49

[6] Archaeology and Language. The puzzle of Indo-European Origin, 1987

[7] Acc. to Widengren the dragon-fight is part of the wolf-warrior initiation. (See also Kurt Abels, Germanische Überlieferung und Zeitgeschichte im Ambraser Wolf Dietrich, 1966, p.25.) Like Indra fighting the dragon Vrtra, Beowulf has to fight the dragon guarding the barrow (Vrtra guards the world mountain). This is at the end of his life, but it is a kind of dublicate of the initial fight with Grendel and G.´s mother. Also Vrtra has a mother, Danu, acc. to Rgv. 1, 32: 9. Vrtra guards the water, Grendel lives in a lake. The snake and its mother is primordial totality of the duality male and female, the dragon fight is creation out of primordial unity.

[8] In: Old Norse Literature and Mythology. Festschrift Hollander, 1969, pp.130ff.

[9] From K.Hauck, Zeitschrift für württembergische Landesgeschichte, 16, 1957

[10] See Donald Ward, The Divine Twins. An Indo-European Myth in Germanic Tradition, 1968

[11] Snorre, Edda

[12] Lokasenna v. 23

[13] Ed. Helen Zimmern, 1883, pp.325-31

[14] Gen 4, 21

[15] Mahabharata 3:188-91

[16] Jan Gonda, Die Religionen Indiens I, pp.140 & 166

[17] p. 141

[18] Ynglingesaga ch. 7

[19] Yng.-saga 4

[20] Paradies und Sündenfall, 1913 (646p.)

[21] R.Reitzenstein ~H.H. Schaeder, pp.214ff., Å.V.Ström-Biezais, p.245

[22] Jan de Vries, Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte,1-2, 1956f., §575f.

[23] "Germanische Schöpfungsmythen 1", Germanische-Romanische Monatsschrift 19.Jg., 1931, pp.92-94

[24] Here twin means “double nature”, “twitter”, cf Latvian jumis = “double-fruit”

[25] Bruce Lincoln, Myth, Cosmos and Society. Indo-European Themes of Creation and Destruction, 1986.

[26] Plutarch, vita Rom. 27

[27] Dionysius Halicarnassus 2, 56, cf. Lincoln pp.42f.

[28] Horrenda Primordia: Zur Germania ch.39, Germanische-romanische Monatsschrift 33, 1952, pp.228-233

[29] Rudolph of Fulda, Ström-Biezais, pp.80f.

[30] pp.94f.

[31] The “man pillar”, ibd., p.31

[32] 720-800 AC, Stenbilleder, p.20

[33] p. 51, Svenstrup church

[34] p.51, Landet church by Svendborg

[35] pp.65-68, Vester Tørslev

[36] pp.131f.

[37] p.135

[38] Jordanes Hist. 24

[39] Cf. Odin´s name Svithurr, “the burning one” (Ström, p.122)

[40] Du mythe au roman: La Saga de Hadingus, 1970

[41] Ström-Biezais, pp.89, 141

[42] Kjersgaards Nye Store Danmarkshistorie, 2, 1988, the text on the cover

[43] Joanne Bourke, An Intimate History of Killing, 1999

[44] “Home of the gods”, acc to Ynglingsaga situated somewhere deep in the heart of Russia.

[45]Surt” means black, and Surt is the leader of the demon-army.

[46] Saxo book VI

[47] Saxo VI, 5-9

[48] The Fable of Prodikos, Xen. Men. II 1,21

[49] Saxo VIII

[50] See pict. above in chap.: The snake…

[51] Gunnar Sneum,Guldhornene, Den hedenske Billedbibel, 1982

[52] Aarbøger for  nordisk Oldkyndighed, 1936

[53] Rightly seen by Hans Brix, Guldhornene fra Gallehus, 1949, pp.55ff.

[54] As seen by Brix, p.58

[55] Brix, p.55

[56] Cf. the Nordic Ouroboros-snake: The Midgards-worm surrounding Midgard, the inhabited part of cosmos

[57] Saxo VII book

[58] Horace et les Curiaces, pp. 11-33 (about “furor”) & The Destiny of the Warrior, 1970

[59] Kultische Geheimbünde der Germanen, 1934

[60] See the article “The German War God”, History of Religions, 1998, pp.192f.

[61] Der arische Männerbund, 1938

[62] Morten Myklebust, Olaf,Viking & Saint, 1997, pp.16f. For Ström’s treatment of the wolf-warrior theme: Germanische Rel., pp.123f.

[63] p.14

[64] pp.254f.