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.