Monday, October 16, 2006

The Rigsthula or Germanic Caste System

Within the sacred works of the myths of the Germanic peoples there is a myth of the caste system.
This is to be found in the Rigsthula.
The Rigsthula tells the story of how the Germanic god Rig came to earth and visited three couples who were childless. He stayed three days with each and begets a child on the wife of each of the three couples.
Here is the story:-

"Once walked, 'tis said, the green ways along, mighty and ancient, a god most glorious; strong and vigorous, striding, Rig.
Ever on he went in the middle of the way, till he came to a house with door unclosed. He entered straight; there was fire on the floor and a hoary couple sitting by the hearth, Great-grandfather and mother in ancient guise.
Well knew Rig how to give them counsel, he sat him down in the middle of the floor, with the home-folk twain upon either side.
Great-grandmother fetched a coarse-baked loaf, all heavy and thick and crammed with husk: she bore it forth in the middle of the dish, with broth in a bowl, and laid the board.
Thence Rig uprose, prepared to rest; -- well he knew how to give them counsel -- he laid him down in the middle of the bed and the home-folk twain upon either side. Thus he tarried three nights together, then on he strode in the middle of the road while thrice three moons were gliding by.
Great-grandmother bore a swarthy boy; with water they sprinkled him, called him Thrall. Forthwith he grew and well he throve, Bur tough were his hands with wrinkled skin, with knuckles knotty and fingers thick; his face was ugly, his back was humpy, his heels were long. Straightway 'gan he to prove his strength, with bast a-binding loads a-making, he bore home faggots the livelong day.
There came to the dwellings a wandering maid, with wayworn feet, and sunburned arms, with down-bent nose,- the Bond-maid named.
She sat her down in the middle of the floor; beside her sat the son of the house: they chatted and whispered, their bed preparing -- Thrall and Bond-maid -- the long day through.
Joyous lived they and reared their children. Thus they called them: Brawler, Cowherd, Boor and Horsefly, Lewd and Lustful, Stout and Stumpy, Sluggard, Swarthy, Lout and Leggy. They fashioned fences, they dunged the meadows, swine they herded, goats they tended and turf they dug.
Daughters were there, -- Loggy and Cloggy, Lumpy-leggy, and Eagle-nose, Whiner, Bondwoman, Oaken-peggy, Tatter-coat and the Crane-shanked maid. Thence ate come the generations of thralls.The Birth of Churl
Ever on went Rig the straight roads along till he came to a dwelling with door unclosed; he entered straight; there was fire in the floor; Grandfather and Grandmother owned the house.
The home-folk sat there hard a-working; by them stood on the floor a box; hewed the husband wood for a warp-beam; trim his beard and the locks o'er his brow, but mean and scanty the shirt he wore.
The wife sat by him plying her distaff, swaying her arms to weave the cloth, with snood on her head and smock on her breast, studs on her shoulders, and scarf on her neck.
Well knew Rig how to give them counsel; he sat him down in the middle of the floor, and the home-folk twain upon either side.
Grandmother set forth plenteous dishes; cooked was the calf, of dainties best. Thence Rig uprose prepared to rest. -- Well he knew how to give them counsel -- he laid him down in the middle of the bed and the home-folk twain upon either side.
Thus he tarried three nights together, then on he strode in the middle of the road while thrice three moons were gliding by.
A child had Grandmother, Churl they called him, and sprinkled with water and swathed in linen, rosy and ruddy, with sparkling eyes. He grew and throve, and forthwith 'gan he to break in oxen, to shape the harrow, to build him houses and barns to raise him, to fashion carts and follow the plough.
Then home they drove with a key-hung maiden in goat-skin kirtle, named Daughter-in-Law. They wed her to Churl in her bridal linen: the twain jade ready, their wealth a-sharing, kept house together, and joyous lived.
Children reared they thus they called them: Youth and Hero, Thane, Smith, Yeoman, Broad-limb, Peasant, Sheaf-beard, Neighbour, Farmer, Speaker and Stubbly-beard.
By other names were the daughters called: Dame, Bride, Lady, Gay, and Gaudy, Maid, Wife, Woman, Bashful, Slender. Thence are come the kindreds of churls.The Birth of Earl
Still on went Rig the straight roads along till he came to a hall whose gates looked south. Pushed was the door to, a ring in the post set: he forthwith entered the rush-strewn room. Each other eyeing, the home-folk sat there -- Father and Mother, -- twirling their fingers. There was the husband, string a-twining, shafting arrows and shaping bows: and there was the wife o'er her fair arms wondering, smoothing her linen, stretching her sleeves. A high-peaked coif and a breast-brooch wore she, trailing robes and a blue-tinged sark. Her brow was brighter, her breast was fairer, her throat was whiter than driven snow.
Well knew Rig how to give them counsel; he sat him down in the middle of the floor, and the home-folk twain upon either side.
Then took Mother a figured cloth, white, of linen, and covered the board; thereafter took she a fine-baked loaf, white of wheat and covered the cloth: next she brought forth plenteous dishes, set with silver, and spread the board with brown-fried bacon and roasted birds. There was wine in a vessel and rich-wrought goblets; they drank and revelled while day went by.
Well knew Rig how to give them counsel; he rose ere long and prepared his couch: he laid him down in the middle of the bed, and the home-folk twain upon either side.
Thus he tarried three nights together; then on he strode in the middle of the road while thrice three moons were gliding by.
Then a boy had Mother; she swathed him in silk, and with water sprinkled him; called him Earl. Light were his locks, and fair his cheeks, flashing his eyes like a serpent's shone.
Grew Earl forthwith in the halls and 'gan to swing the shield, to fit the string, to bend the bow, to shaft the arrow, to hurl the dart, to shake the spear, to ride the horse, to loose the hounds, to draw the sword, and to swim the stream.
Forth from the thicket came Rig a-striding, Rig a-striding, and taught him runes, his own name gave him, -- as son he claimed him, and bade him hold the ancestral fields, -- the ancestral fields -- and the ancient home.
Then on rode Earl through the murky wood, through the rimy fells till he reached a hall. His shaft he shook, his shield he brandished, his steed he galloped, his sword he drew; war he wakened, the field he reddened, the doomed he slew, and won him lands -- till alone he ruled over eighteen halls. Gold he scattered and gave to all men treasures and trinkets and slender-ribbed horses; wealth he strewed and sundered rings.
Along dewy roads his messengers drive till the hall they reached where Ruler dwelt. A daughter owned he, dainty fingered, fair and skilful, Erna called.
They wooed her and brought her home a-driving; to Earl they wed her in veil fine-woven: husband and wife lived happy together, their children waxed and life enjoyed.The Birth of King
Heir was the eldest, Bairn the second, Babe, Successor, Inheritor, Boy, Descendent, Offspring, Son, Youth, Kinsman; Kon the kingly was youngest born.
Forthwith grew up the sons of Earl; games they learned, and sports and swimming, taming horses, round shields bending, war shafts smoothing, ash spears shaking; but King the youngest alone knew runes, runes eternal and runes of life. Yet more he knew, -- how to shelter men, to blunt the sword-edge and calm the sea: he learnt bird language, to quench the fire flame, heal all sorrows and soothe the heart; strength and might of eight he owned.
Then he strove in runes with Rig, the Earl, crafty wiles he used and won, so gained his heritage, held the right thus Rig to be called and runes to know.
Young King rode once through thicket and wood, shooting arrows and slaying birds, till spake a crow, perched lone on a bough: "Why wilt thou thus kill birds, young King? 'Twould fit thee rather to ride on horses, to draw the sword and to slay the foe.
"Dan and Damp have dwellings goodlier, homesteads fairer than ye do hold; and well they know the keel to ride, the sword to prove and wounds to strike."

Rigsthula explains how Rig[or Heimdall as he is elsewhere identified] institutes the Germanic caste system of nobles, peasant-warriors and producers/slaves. This loosely follows the Indo-European or Aryan caste system of priests, nobles/warriors and producers. The Germanic peoples did not have as far as we can tell a seperate priestly caste but it is thought that the priestly and royal functions were combined in the person of the king or chieftain. The Celtic equivalent being Druides, Equites and Plebes. The Roman-Flamines, Milites and Quirites. The Indo-Aryan Brahmas, Ksatriyas and Vaisyas.
Jean Haudry in his book `The Indo-Europeans` states "This society[ie Germanic society] was divided into three classes: the Jarls or nobles; the Karls, free peasants, and the Thralls, servants.. These latter are confined to the servile tasks of the third function. The Karls are peasant soldiers, subordinate in each of their functions to the Jarls; the religious function is not the property of a class, but of one particular Jarl, the king."

The lack of a seperate and distinct religious caste can be explained in terms of a functional shift within the caste system brought about by social upheaval. Is the clue to this upheaval to be found in the the conflict between the Aesir and the Vanir gods, the conflict between the lunar and solar religious systems that was brought about by the ancient movements of the Aryan tribes?

Rudolf Simek in his `Dictionary of Northern Mythology posits the theory that the role of Rig or Hemdall better fits the picture of the wandering god Odin.

By contrast the modern `western` world with its socio-economic `class` system has largely abandoned the notion of a caste that one is born in to and in which one remains and one`s descendants. Instead the rule of the modern age is not blood and descent but money, gold.

Julius Evola has this to say about the function of what he calls the `Doctrine of Castes`:

"The castes, more than defining social groups, defined functions and typical ways of being and acting. The correspondence of the fundamental natural possibilities of the single individual to any of these functions determined his or her belonging to the corresponding caste. Thus, in the duties toward one`s caste[each caste was traditionally required to perform specific duties], the individual was able to recognise the normal explication as well as the development and the chrism of his or her own nature within the overall order imposed "from above". This is why the caste system developed and was applied in the traditional world as a natural, agreeable institution based on something that everybody regarded as obvious, rather than on violence, oppression, or on what in modern terms is referred to as "social injustice". By acknowledging his own nature, traditional man knew his own place, function, and what would be the correct relationship with both superiors and inferiors;...."[Revolt Against the Modern World]

How well does the Bhagavad Gita state

41." O Khrishna, from the predominance of unrighteousness, the women of that family become corrupt; and women being corrupted, there arises intermingling of castes.42. This intermingling of castes leads the destroyers of the family to hell, as also the family itself; for their ancestors fall, being deprived of the offerings of rice ball and water.43. By these misdeeds of the slayers of the family, bringing about confusion of caste, the immemorial religious rites of family and caste are destroyed."
[Bhagavad Gita Chapter 1]

Let us not forget that it is the gods who have ordained the order of castes in recognition of the fact that nature is hierarchical. To overturn this order is to overturn the cosmic order instituted by the gods.

It is the duty of the king to maintain the integrity of the caste system:

"If men persist in seeking intimate contact with other men`s wives, the king should brand them with punshments that inspire terror and banish them.
For that gives rise among people to the confusion of the classes, by means of which irreligion, that cuts away the roots, works for the destruction of everything."
[Laws of Manu, Chapter 8 352-353]

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Ingvaeones-Ing`s Folk

In Tacitus` Germania 2.2 it says

"In ancient lays, their only type of historical tradition, they celebrate Tuisto, a god brought forth from the earth. They attribute to him a son, Mannus, the source and founder of their people, and to Mannus three sons, from whose names those nearest the Ocean are called Ingvaeones, those in the middle Herminones, and the rest Istvaeones."

The Roman historian Tacitus writing in 97CE categorised the Germanic peoples in to three distinct groups. For the time being we are going to focus on just one of these groups-the Ingvaeones.
So who were the Ingvaeones?
According to Pliny the Ingvaeones included the Cimbri, Teutones and the Chauci, all of which were coastal tribes.
These tribes occupied the Danish and north German coastal areas and it is from this area that the Germanic tribes of the Angles and Jutes joined with the Saxons, Frisians and Franks in their invasion and colonisation of southern Britain, the direct ancestors of the modern English.
John Grigsby in his ground-breaking work, `Beowulf and Grendel` states that "these tribes had been settled in Denmark and northern Germany for at least 2,000 years before Tacitus mentioned them by name." [Chapter 1-`Clans of the Sea Coasts`] .
This would mean that the ancestors of the English had a common cultural and genetic heritage with the Danes.
It is in this area of Old Angeln[Old England] that the poet of the Anglo-Saxon classic `Beowulf` sites the hall of Heorot, the scene of the climatic action between Beowulf and the `monster` Grendel.
The Beowulf poet refers to the `Ingwine` or `friends of Ing`. Hrothgar, the lord of Heorot is referred to as `Lord of the Ingwine`.
Could this mean that the Ingvaeones were descended from the god Ing? Was Ing originally their primary deity? If so then why was he later eclipsed by Woden?

"Ing waes aerest mid Eastdenum
gesewen secgun, oth he siddan est
ofer waeg gewat; waen aefter ran;
thus heardingas thone haele nemdun."

"Ing was amongst the East-Danes first
seen by men, till later east
he went over the wave; his wain followed after;
the Heardings named the hero so."

[Louis J Rodrigues translation from "Anglo-Saxon Verse Runes"]

The rune Ing or Inguz is the 22nd rune of the 3rd aett or the Tyr aett of the Common Germanic Futharc or the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc and represents the god Ing. It is aso associated with the god Frejr and is symbolic of fertility.
Indeed it has been argued that Ing is a manifestation of the
Vanir god of fertility Freyr. Freyr and his sister-wife Freyja are children of the coastal god Njorthr and Nerthus, also a brother-sister fertility pairing.
Ing is associated with the Swedish Yngvi-Freyr which is the name that Snorri gives to the god Frejr in his Ynglinga Saga. The Swedish Yngling kings counted him as their ancestor and founder of the Yngling dynasty.
According to Rudolf Simek Ing`s association with the Gothic name of the yew-rune enguz points to the great age of the god Ing.
Simek states in his "Dictionary of Northern Mythology" "Yngvi could as a result be a derivation from *Ingwia-fraujaz `lord of the Ingaevones` whereby a great age for the construction Yngvi-Freyr must be assumed".
Mr Grigsby argues in `Beowulf and Grendel` that Beowulf was more than just a folk tale but was also based in history and in myth. Whilst there is no direct evidence to support the existence of an historical Beowulf he argues that the story of his killing of Grendel and his mother represents the acting out of an ancient Vanic fertility rite and mystery in the same way the Grail myth is a Celtic representation of this same ancient northern rite.[See his `Warriors of the Wasteland`.]
At the time of the written composition of the Beowulf poem the cult of Odin/Woden/Wotan and the Aesir pantheon had already supplanted the older Vanir gods but the Vanir held out longest in northern Germany and Denmark because of their relative isolation from their more southern Germanic cousins. Being a coastal community the Ingvaeones had a deeper and longer held connection to the Vanir, being gods of the sea and fertility.
Again as before in his earlier work[`Warriors of the Wasteland] he draws a direct connection between the Danish bog sacrifices and the ancient re-enactment of the sacrificial rites of the Old Europeans.
The story of Beowulf`s struggle with Grendel and his mother represents the struggle between the Aesir and the Vanir which is referred to in Snorri`s `Younger Edda` or `Prose Edda` and the Ynglinga Saga.
The worship of the fertility goddess Nerthus singled out these English tribes as being different from their Germanic neighbours.
Tacitus says this of Nerthus:
"There is nothing noteworthy about them individually[ie the Ingvaeones], except that collectively they worship Nerthus, or Mother Earth, and believe that she takes part in human affairs and rides among the peoples.
On an island in the Ocean is a holy grove, and in it a consecrated wagon covered with hangings; to one priest alone is it permitted so much as to touch it. He perceives when the goddess is present in her innermost recess, and with great reverence escorts her as she is drawn along by heifers. Then there are days of rejoicing, and holidays are held wherever she deigns to go and be entertained.
They do not begin wars, they do not take up arms; everything iron is shut away; peace and tranquillity are only then known and only then loved, until again the priest restores to her temple the goddess, sated with the company of mortals.
Then the wagon and hangings, if you will, the goddess herself are washed clean in a hidden lake. Slaves perform this service, and the lake at once engulfs them: there is as a result a mysterious fear and a sacred ignorance about something seen only by those doomed to die.
[Germania, 40.2-40.4]

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Aryan Grail-a Quest for Wholeness

John Grigsby in his 2003 book `Warriors of the Wasteland` posits the theory that the Aryan quest for the Grail is actually a quest to reintegrate the rational, logical left side of the brain with the more mystical and intuitive right side.
With the coming of the Arya into northwestern Europe in around 2700BCE there was a distinctive change in the way in which the dead were buried, a move away from communal burial to the more individual burial and a more warrior-like, virile solar spirituality replaced the lunar spirituality of the Old European population. Lunar symbols were replaced with solar ones, the chief of these being the sunwheel and swastika. There appears to have been a deliberate displacement of the myths of the Old Europeans with that of the Arya.
Mr Grigsby has no hesitation in referring to these invading incomers as `Arya`.
"The Indo-Europeans-or Arya[not Aryans, as is commonly thought], a name they sometimes used in reference to themselves-are believed to have had a common cultural make-up, which was carried with them to the various lands where their languages are now spoken. Part of this make-up was a threefold division of society into priests, warriors and herders/cultivators: in India the Brahamas, Ksatriyas and Vaisyas; in Rome the Flamines, Milites and Quirites; and in Celtic Gaul, according to Caesar, the Druides, Equites and Plebes."[Chapter 14, "The Arya"].
He goes on to say "The principal holy symbols used by the Arya/Indo-Europeans were the horse and the sun."
He contrasts this with the principal religious symbol of the ox of the Old Europeans.
"The horse was the Indo-European animal par excellence and took the place of the ox as a symbol of divinity in their religion. The horse was what made them swift and deadly in battle; it pulled their chariots and provided them with victory and new land-for they claimed as their own the very soil over which their horses travelled[indeed gabar, the Irish word for horse, forms the basis of the word for `invasion`]." [Chapter 15 "The Dragon Slayer"]
He believes that the bog men of Denmark, Ireland, Britain and other parts of northwestern Europe were not merely sacrifices to appease the gods but actually were willing participants in an ancient mystical rite, a self-sacrifice in which via a triple death they acted out the death of the `dying god`, an attempt to heal the rift that occurred in the European psyche when the lunar spirituality was abruptly replaced by the solar.
Traces of an hallucinogenic toxic grain called ergot has been found in the stomachs of the well-preserved bog men which along with their `triple death` indicated a ritual death, not merely a sacrifice to the gods.
He draws a direct link between the bog men and rituals contained within the Grail myths.
The pagan Indo-European myth of the Grail which was not committed to written record until the Christian era is a myth that is concerned with reintegrating the predominant Aryan left brain with the right, not a simple return to lunar spirituality but an integration of the left and the right, the lunar and the solar. This in essence is a form of `awakening`, the achievement of spiritual and psychological wholeness in which the Arya can realise and achieve a state of being at one with the gods, of being god in man in this lifetime.
This may be likened to Carl Gustav Jung`s `Collective Unconscious` and `Individuation`, the process of reintegrating the two halves of the human mind.