Lascaux cave art

Lascaux cave art

Monday, July 20, 2015

Huginn and Muninn, the Mind of Woden

Woden's two ravens are symbolic of 'thought' (Huginn) and 'memory' (Muninn). The association of Woden with the raven is an ancient one and precedes the Viking Age with "Decorations on a helmet found in a Swedish grave of the Vendel period show Odin as a rider with a spear accompanied by two birds." (Dictionary of Northern Mythology, Rudolf Simek).

Indeed golden Migration Age bracteates also depict the same iconography. It has been suggested by some scholars that the ravens are bird-shaped valkyries and in this regard I am reminded of the Irish battle Goddess the Morrighan who was able to take the form of the crow on the field of battle and was the patron Goddess of Irish bands of warriors as was Woden of the Germanic Männerbunde.

Indeed according to J.T. Sibley (The Divine Thunderbolt. Missile of the Gods) the raven, vulture, crow or eagle are envoys of the sky/thunder God. In fact both Woden and Thunor are different aspects of the supreme Aryan sky God. Woden's spear Gungnir was according to J.T. Sibley "modeled on Tyr's spear, which in turn was derived from Zeus/Jupiter's oak-shafted spear." This is interesting as I have maintained for some time now that in order that we may understand Woden we must go beyond what is written of Odin in the Eddas which is a much later development of this divine archetype. What Jung wrote in his 1936 essay Wotan is of more relevance to us as Saxons and Anglo-Saxons. Let us not forget that this deity does not have His origin in Scandinavia but in the mountains and forests of continental Germania. He is our Woden/Wodan/Wotan.

"Wod/Wodan/Woden/Odin seems to have originally been a relatively local continental Germanic sky/storm god, possibly in Lower Saxony." (Sibley)
"The apex of Odin's victorious career is reached in the Migration Age. The story in Snorri's Hemskringla and the preface to the Edda tell us about this; they make Odin emigrate from Saxony to Scandinavia and, after various vicissitudes of warfare, force the Vanes to acknowledge him as supreme god." (Our Forefathers the Gothonic Nations. A Manual of the Ethnography of the Gothic, German, Dutch, Anglo-Saxon, Frisian and Scandinavian Peoples, Gudmund Schuette) 
"The primitive conception of Odin is the German storm giant Wode, leader of the 'wild army', O.H.G. Wuotis-her, i.e. the procession of the homeless dead through the air." (Schuette)

Woden's origins can indeed be traced back to the Germanic Bronze Age:

"Pictorial monuments: it is possible to trace depictions of Odin back to the Bronze Age if the large spear-bearing god-figures on some southern Swedish rock carvings may be interpreted as representing Odin." (Simek)

However H.R. Ellis Davidson is of a different opinion:

"In Tiwaz we have an early Germanic war god, an ancestor of Odin. He had great powers, and extensive sacrifices were made to him. He was a one-handed god, and a one-handed figure wielding a weapon is seen among Bronze Age rock-engravings in Scandinavia it has been suggested that his worship may go back to very early times in the north, and that the myth of the binding of the wolf is of great antiquity." (Gods and Myths of Northern Europe)

I tend to agree with Ellis Davidson. If the Cult of Odin is a later import from Lower Saxony to Scandinavia it unlikely in my opinion to date back to the Bronze Age but rather the Iron Age. Tiwaz is the one God who can be found in the most ancient Aryan period and was eclipsed by first Thunaraz and then Wodanaz. All three Gods Thunor, Tiw and Woden are aspects of the same deity who have developed in different ways amongst the Germanic tribes and peoples.

Going back to the issue of the two ravens Huginn and Muninn it is abundantly clear to me that in the reconstruction and evolution of our sacred Aryan Germanic religion we must bear in mind that whilst we are not imprisoned in the past as some glorified Viking re-enactment group we are nonetheless bound to root our 21st century religion on the bedrock of the past. Huginn as a concept of rationality and learning teaches us this fact. However Muninn also reminds me that our religion is not dry book study but a living and evolving dynamic spiritual path and what the Eddas, Sagas and Rune Poems do not tell us we can recover from memory, racial memory, blood memory, the Collective Racial Unconscious if you will! In Munnin there is room for inspiration and prophecy. Basically our Wodenic religion is or should be a fusion of Huginn, the rational and Muninn, the inspirational just as the human brain has two hemispheres, the left brain being objective, rational and logical whilst the right brain is subjective,reflective and intuitive. We need both sides of the brain to function in a balanced way if we are to be balanced as people. Huginn and Muninn are outward symbols of how our High Lord Woden operates in the nine realms and we as his children and servants should do likewise.


WyrdWalker said...

"Huginn and Muninn are outward symbols of how our High Lord Woden operates in the nine realms and we as his children and servants should do likewise" I believe a whole book could be written on that premise..........and a good one at that. I've often been intrigued by the feathered pair and never see a raven without a tip of my hat. Just yesterday I found a feather from one of their relations on my walking trail. I took it as a gift and a reminder that they are out and about, doing their father's business.

Wotans Krieger said...

Indeed. There are ravens who live not far from me and I often see them out and about and find myself transfixed by these beautiful birds and messengers of Woden.