Lascaux cave art

Lascaux cave art

Friday, September 28, 2012

Irmin, Arminius and the Herminones

Tacitus states in his Germania 2.2 "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."

 I have previously discussed the connection between the God Ing and the Ingvaones and his mythical position as father of the English-Inglish-the sons of Ing. Now I would like to explore the relationship between the Herminones and the mysterious God Irmin.

The Herminones or Irminones consisted of tribes such as the Hermunduri, Chatti, Cherusci, Alamanni, Suebi, Marcomanni, Quadi, Saxons and the Boii. We know that the ancient Teutons regarded themselves as being not just the creation of the Gods but their very own flesh and blood offspring. Therefore it was natural for them to name themselves after their perceived mythical ancestor.

Whilst many scholars doubt the existence of a God Irmin[see Rudolf Simek`s entries for Irmin and Irminsul in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology there are many who consider Irmin to have been a very real mythical deity and quite possibly a deified human being as well. I very much doubt that the ancient Teutons would have erected their Irmin columns and called them `huge` pillars just on the basis of their size. We know that originally the Gods were portrayed as poles and worshiped as such so I do not see why the Irminsul should be an exception to the rule.

Many of us speculate that the name of Irmin is to be found in one of the three great tribal divisions of our people-the Herminones or Irminones. Like the Ingvaeones who derive from Ing and the Istavones or Iscaevones who descend from Ask[Jacob Grimm] or Escio[Nennius]the Herminones are the children of the God Irmin whose human incarnation was Arminius or Hermann the Cheruscer who rescued his people and the bulk of northern and central Germania from Roman invasion by inflicting a catastrophic defeat upon them in the region of the Teutoburger Wald[9CE]. Irmin, Hermann and Arminius are all variants of the same name which has its cognates in Celtic-Eremon and Ariomannus and Indo-Aryan Aryaman and Iranian Airyaman.

What could be more natural that a huge pole or pillar be errected to this ancestral God and that it be called the Irminsul-the column of Irmin? The Royal Frankish Annals[772CE] refer to the destruction of the Irminsul by Charlemagne during the Saxon wars. The Irminsul represented the centre of the pre-christian Germanic religion. The Irminsul was reported as being situated no far from Heresburg[Eresburg] now known as Obermarsberg. Like Saxnot and Tyr/Tiu Irmin was a sword God, a martial God who protected His people. There are also connections between the Irminsul and the sacred Externsteine and today one can see a portrayal of a fallen Irminsul carved into the rocks. I do not wish to discuss the Irminsul in any greater detail in this article as I intend to dedicate a future one soley to this remarkable symbol. My reference to it is purely in the context of supporting my contention that Irmin was an actual deity and recognised as such by our Folk.


Steed said...

Very thought-provoking piece. I know it's Wikipedia, but there's a pertinent paragraph on the page about the Irminones:

"JĒ«rmun, the Viking Age Norse form of the name Irmin, can be found in a number of places in the Poetic Edda as a by name for Odin. This pans with both the historical circumstances of the Irminones in relationship to Rome, Widukinds confusion over whether Irmin was comparable to Mars or Hermes, and with Snorri Sturluson's allusions at the beginning of his Prose Edda; that Odin's cult appeared first in Germany and then spread up into the Ingaevonic North."

...suggesting that Irmin may have been cognitive with Wodan (which works when we consider Wodan's sacred relationship with the Irminsul/World tree). Therein also lies the suggestion that Ing was worshipped as a primary god in the north before Wodan moved in.

Wotans Krieger said...

Thanks for that. I will look into this particular line of enquiry.

Steed said...

I've explored the Ing vs Woden predicament further in a blog entry: here