Sunday, April 14, 2013

Further Reflections on Perkunos, the North-West Aryan Thunder God

All Indo-European mythological pantheons include a Thunder God but it is amongst the North-West Indo-Europeans that there is a common unity in terms of the form that the God takes and the etymology of His name. The reconstructed form of his name in Proto-Indo-European[PIE] is *Perkunos.[The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World by J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams]. From *Perkunos we derive Perkonis[Prussian], Perkunis[Lithuanian], Perkons[Latvian], Perunu[Old Russian], Pyerun[Russian], Piorun[Polish], Perun[Czech] and Fjorgyn[the mother of Thor], so this deity is most clearly expressed as a unified entity amongst the Germanic, Baltic and Slavic peoples. There may also be a link to the Sanskrit Parjanya but scholars are divided over this. Parjanya is in fact a rain God in the Vedas but of course thunder does bring rain! When we look more closely at the first part of *Perk-unos we find some most interesting associations. In PIE `oak` is *perkus. Of course the oak tree is sacred to the Thunder God and thus more susceptible to lightning strikes due to the tallness and moisture content of the tree. The prefix *per has the meaning of `strike` and of course this is what He does with his axe/hammer/club. Also the PIE term for `axe` is *pelekus, not very different from *per! The axe of course was Thunor`s original lightning weapon and indeed this feature was retained by the Baltic and Slavic versions of Thunor. Amongst the Balts and Slavs He also has a red beard and His vehicle of choice is the chariot drawn by a billy goat.
"Proto-Indo-Europeans believed that they lived under a stone vault, that the stone hills and mountains rose to the sky, or that stone axes fell out of the sky, ie as thunder-stones[e.g. Lithuanian Perkuno akmuo `thunder-stone`[lit. `Perkunas` stone`, where Perkunas is the god of thunder]."[Mallory, Adams]
We need to remember that not only was the axe an earlier form of the hammer as a thunder weapon and as a weapon used in battle but it was of course originally of stone. The Aryans on their migrations and conquests throughout Europe and the Near East still carried stone battle axes even during the Bronze Age. So the axe, in particular the stone axe is the original weapon of the Thunder God and sacred to the Aryans. Amongst the Teutons and some of the Celts the axe eventually transformed into a hammer which people now more generally associate with Thunor/Thor/Donar. Sucellos the Gallic Thunder God is also depicted as carrying a hammer. Although the Finns speak a Finno-Ugric language they are predominately a Nordic people. Their Thunder God is known as Ukko and He too carried an axe or a hammer. It is likely that this deity was influenced by the Indo-European Thunder God of the nearby Balts. Amongst the Finno-Ugric Estonians He is called Uko. There may be an association of Ukko/Uku with Perkele/Peko, a Finnish and Estonian God of the crops. Again my readers should note the etymological similarity with *Perkunos. The original Proto-Germanic name for the Thunder God is *Thunraz. From this we derive the Old English Thunor, the Old High German Thonar or Donar and the Old Norse Thorr. This article should also be read in conjunction with my article on the Celto-Germanic Culture, Myth and History blog from 12/8/12 *Perkunos-the Original Name of the Northern PIE Thunder God.


Tomáš Vanc ml. said...

This is very interesting!

Aren't You considering to creating another blog, this time pointed on the Slavonic mythology? Something like Slav-Germanic Culture, Myth and History?

Wotans Krieger said...

Unfortunately not. I am not an expert on Slavic mythology.Any articles touching upon this will be published on this blog.