Saturday, 9 December 2017

Gray Mare



"Mari Lwyd" meaning "Grey Mare" is an ancient Welsh tradition celebrating the end of the Christmas season (taking place from Christmas into January). A group of singers would go from house to house (including pubs) with the Mari Lywd and try to gain entry by a verbal contest with the inhabitants. The Mari Lwyd consists of a horse's skull with false eyes and and ears and a white sheet which was attached to the skull to make the body. Sometimes the horse head was actually made from wood. The jaws were wired so they could be snapped. Bells were attached to the reins and horse adorned with colorful ribbons. Either a person dressed up as the Mari Lwyd or it was carried on a pole.

The custom used to begin at dusk and often lasted late into the night. The Mari Lwyd party consisted of four to seven men, who often had coloured ribbons and rosettes attached to their clothes and sometimes wore a broad sash around the waist. There was usually a smartly dressed "Leader" who carried a staff, stick, or whip, and sometimes other stock characters, such as the "Merryman" who played music, and Punch and Judy (both played by men) with blackened faces; often brightly dressed, Punch carried a long metal fire iron and Judy had a besom.

The Mari Lwyd party would approach a house and sing a song in which they requested admittance. The inhabitants of the house would then offer excuses for why the team could not enter. The party would sing a second verse, and the debate between the two sides – known as the pwnco – would continue until the house's inhabitants ran out of ideas, at which time they were obliged to allow the party entry and to provide them with ale and food. An account from Nantgarw described such a performance, in which the Punch and Judy characters would cause a noise, with Punch tapping the ground to the rhythm of the music and rapping on the door with a poker, while Judy brushed the ground, house walls, and windows with a broom. The householders had to make Punch promise that he would not touch their fireplace before he entered the building, otherwise it was the local custom that before he left he would rake out the fire with his poker.

Once inside, the entertainment continued with the Mari Lwyd running around neighing and snapping its jaws, creating havoc, frightening children (and perhaps even adults) while the Leader pretended to try to restrain it. The Merryman played music and entertained the householders.

You can see how this ceremony was performed in this black and white film of men in the village of Llangynwyd carrying out the tradition of the Mari Lwyd, BBC Wales program, Lolfa, 1966



And this black and white film recorded in Tregaron(?) performing the Lari Lwyd ritual on Christmas Eve 1964, currently kept in National Library Of Wales.

The origin of the tradition is uncertain but it is believed that it is pre-Christian and possibly associated with Welsh mythological character Rhiannon from the Welsh folk epic Mabinogion. Rhiannon, who came from the otherworld, rode a shining white horse. 

But is it possible that this skeletal grey mare has a solar symbolism? 

In Slavic mythology, sun god Svetovid had a white stallion as his sacred animal. You can read more about the solar horse in my post about the Slavic sun god Svetovid.

Now it is very likely that this is the same white solar stallion we see depicted on many Celtic coins, like this one:



This white stallion was the symbol of the bright, warm, summer sun, which shines around the time of the summer solstice. The stallion is in this way linked with the Sky father who dominates this part of the year. 

The dead skeletal grey mare would then be a good symbol for dim, cold, winter sun, which shines around the time of the winter solstice? The mare is in this way linked with the Earth mother who dominates this part of the year.

That the whole ritual could have a solar symbolism can also be seen from the part which concerns the fire. The fact that Judy carries the fireplace poker and is made to promise not to touch the fire could be a remnant of the old winter solstice fire magic ritual which is still preserved in Serbia. In Serbia, every Christmas eve, a yule log was ceremonially placed in the fire place, and was supposed to burn through Christmas night and Christmas day. This symbolically insured that the fire of the sun would burn through the winter and that the summer would arrive again. On Christmas day, a special fire poking ritual was performed by the first man that crosses the house doorstep. As he poked the fire he tried to make as many sparks as possible, all the while reciting this spell: "As many sparks, as much luck, as many sparks as much happiness, as many sparks as much health, as many sparks as many cattle, as many sparks as much grain..." This Serbian ritual was intended to bring good bountiful year to the family in whose house it was performed. Maybe similar fire poking was once part of Mari Lwyd ritual???

What do you think?

Friday, 8 December 2017

Natufian house

According to a report in Seeker, published in August 2017, researchers led by Tobias Richter of the University of Copenhagen have excavated a Natufian culture site in Jordan known as Shubayqa 1, which was occupied between 12,600 and 10,000 BC. The early radiocarbon date for the site, obtained through accelerator mass spectrometry, suggests that Natufians lived across the region of the Levant earlier than had been previously thought, and adapted to a wide range of habitats. The site could also offer scientists information on the transition from hunting and gathering to farming. Richter said the people living at Shubayqa 1 domesticated dogs as early as 12,000 BC. They produced art in the form of carved bone and stone figures. They also buried their dead. “Some have argued that this is evidence for the presence of ritual specialists—shamans—or some kind of group leaders,” Richter said. “What seems clear is that the Natufians had developed a complex symbolic cosmology and treated their dead with respect.”

They also built one of the world’s earliest stone buildings, complete with a stone-paved floor. A stone-lined fire pit, and food remains from birds, gazelle, and tubers, vegetables, and wild cereals and legumes were also uncovered.

This is the building the article is talking about:



In the article "High Resolution AMS Dates from Shubayqa 1, northeast Jordan Reveal Complex Origins of Late Epipalaeolithic Natufian in the Levant" by Tobias Richter, Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, Lisa Yeomans & Elisabetta Boaretto, we can see the aerial view of Shubayqa 1 showing the main excavation area A/B and location of Shubayqa 1 (insert bottom left). And in the centre we can see the above house with the paved floor and the stone lined hearth, which is clearly trapezoid in its shape.


This is very very interesting. Because there is another site, in Serbia, full of trapezoid houses with paved floors and central lined hearth.

Lepenski Vir, located in Serbia, is an important archaeological site of the Mesolithic Iron Gates culture of the Balkans. The latest radiocarbon and AMS data suggests that the chronology of Lepenski Vir is compressed between 9500/7200-6000 BC. The late Lepenski Vir (6300-6000 BC) architectural development was the development of the Trapezoidal buildings and monumental sculpture...


The houses are completely standardized in design, and have a very distinct shape, built according to a complicated geometric pattern.  



They however greatly vary in size. The smallest of the houses have an area of 1.5 m2 (16 sq ft) while the largest one covers 30 m2 (320 sq ft). Here are these trapezoidal buildings in situ.


In Lepenski Vir, it appears that there was a process of gradual desacralization, which means that the shrines turned into the houses in time.

The basis of each of the houses is a circle segment of exactly 60 degrees, constructed in the manner of an equilateral triangle. The tip of the trapezoid base, a shape previously unknown in human settlements, is pointed into the direction of the prevailing wind (košava).  The material used for the floors is the local limestone clay, which, when mixed with the animal dung and ash, hardens like a concrete. Because of that, the floors are almost in perfect condition. On the edges of the floors there are remnants of the stone reinforcements which served as the carriers of the upper constructions, which means the houses were covered. The covering material was some easily degradable material or was similar to the surrounding loess, so it couldn't be distinguished from it during the excavations.

According to the archaeologists who worked on the site, the planned design of the settlement, its functionality and proportional forms, shows the almost modern sense of architecture. Despite a major age distance between then and now, the architectural plan of the settlement seems so contemporary and recognizable today.

The shape of the house base was, until I saw the above Natufian house, thought to be completely authentic and not recorded in any other locality.

Now what? Are these two cultures connected? 

Let's see what we have:

Natufian single trapezoid house (temple???) with stone paved floor and stone lined hearth. 

Lepenski vir trapezoid houses with stone paved floors and stone lined hearths, which Serbian archaeologists say developed from temples...

Natufians founded Jericho which may be the oldest city in the world. People of the PPNA culture which succeeds the Natufian culture in Jericho, buried their dead under the floors of their houses. There are 279 burials, below floors, under household foundations, and in between walls found in the PPNA period layer in Jericho. During PPNB period, Skulls were often dug up and reburied, or mottled with clay and (presumably) displayed. 



Lepenski vir people also buried their dead under the floors of their houses, sometimes with the head cut off. They also made many stone heads which were displayed in the settlements.


Is this all just a coincidence? The cultural traits I have just described are so unique, and dates of the late Natufian culture and the early Lepenski vir culture are so close, that I believe that there is a distinct possibility that there is a link between these two cultures.

What do you think?

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Winter spirit

Nestled in the Cotswold countryside, Chedworth Roman Villa has some of the most impressive in-situ Roman mosaics in Britain. One of these mosaics is this one known as "The spirit of winter". On it we can see a figure wearing a winter cloak. In one hand he is holding a dead leafless branch. In the other he is holding a hare. 



Gods never hold random objects in their hands. So, I believe that both of these two things that "The spirit of winter" is holding have a meaning related to winter. 

The dead leafless branch is an obvious symbol. Trees are leafless in winter. 

But there is another possibility, that this is not a dead leafless branch at all, but stag antlers. Considering that stags lose their antlers during the winter, this is another perfect symbol of winter...

But what about the hare? 



European hares have a prolonged breeding season which lasts from January to August. Peak reproductive activity occurs in March and April, when all females may be pregnant, the majority with three or more foetuses. The height of the breeding season, is known as "March madness", when the normally nocturnal bucks are forced to be active in the daytime. Female fertility continues through May, June and July, but testosterone production decreases in males and sexual behaviour becomes less overt. Litter sizes decrease as the breeding season draws to a close with no pregnancies occurring after August. The Male hares are infertile during September, October and November.

So:

The mating period starts end of January, beginning of February and ends end of July, beginning of August. 

The end of January, beginning of February is the beginning of Spring, which is in the Celtic calendar marked by Imbolc, which is celebrated on the 1st of February, but actually falls on the 4th of February, which is the exact mid point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. 

The end of July and the beginning of August is the beginning of Autumn, which is in the Celtic calendar marked by Lughnasadh, which is celebrated on the 1st of August, but actually falls on the 2nd of August, whcih is the exact mid point between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. 

The most intensive part of the hare breeding season is known as "The March Madness". This is where we also find spring equinox, which later became Easter...

No wonder hare was in the past seen as a symbol of fertility...

You can read more about the Celtic calendar in my post "Two crosses". 

Interesting right? But here is something even more interesting. Right at the beginning of the hare breeding season, in January, is the best time to see the constellation Lepus, hare. 


Considering that we know that Pisces (fishes), Aries (ram), Taurus (bull) and Capricorn (goat) all mark significant events in the reproductive cycle of these animals on the yearly solar cycle, I am convinced that Lepus (hare) is not where it is on the yearly solar cycle by chance...

And this is why the spirit of winter holds a hare in his hand :)

Friday, 24 November 2017

Thanksgiving


When people say "thanksgiving" today, the immediate association is "the day when Americans and Canadians eat roast turkey to celebrate....something".

Americans commonly trace the Thanksgiving holiday to a 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the settlers held a harvest feast for three days after a successful growing season. 

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are traced to the French settlers who came to New France in the 17th century, who celebrated their successful harvests. 

The European settlers in America celebrated the end of harvest because thanksgiving festivals which mark the end of harvest have been celebrated all over Europe probably since the arrival of agriculture.

The word "harvest" comes from the Old English word "hærfest", meaning "autumn". It then came to refer to the season for reaping and gathering grain and other grown products.

The harvest season, autumn, begins on the 2nd of August when we find Lughnasadh which is in England known as Lammas, meaning "loaf Mass" and is celebrated on the 1st of August. And the autumn ends on the 5th of November when we find Samhain which is celebrated on the 31 of October and St Martin's day which is celebrated on the 11th of November.

The most well known end of harvest festival is St Martin's day or Martinmas, when people celebrate successful end of agricultural year. Martinmas is celebrated on November 11 each year. This is the time when autumn harvest was completed, autumn wheat seeding was completed, sheep were brought down from the mountain pastures and the annual slaughter of the pigs, which were fattened on acorns, was also done. (An old English saying is "His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog," meaning "he will get his comeuppance" or "everyone must die".)

Originally, thanksgiving was celebrated as a day of giving thanks to "Heavenly father" or the "Sky father" for basically not destroying the crops.

As I said already all agricultural societies in Europe had some form of end of harvest festival. Here I would like to talk a bit more about the end of the harvest festivals which used to be celebrated by the ancient Irish and ancient South Baltic Slavs. The links between these two festivals are so striking that they are pointing at a almost certain cultural link between these two people.

In Ireland the end of the harvest period, the end of autumn, was also the end of the year. The mass held to give thanks for the good harvest and the good year, was held on Samhain, Haloween, Irish New Year, which is today celebrated on the 31st of October. But the date of Samhain was originally probably 5th of November, the true mid point between autumn equinox and winter solstice.

Now the God to whom Ancient Irish gave thanks for their harvest was called Crom Cruach, which is another name of Crom Dubh, the old Irish god of agriculture.

The most famous worshiper of Crom Cruiach (Crom Dubh) was Tigernmas, sometimes called Tiernmas, an Irish high king who is said to have ruled Ireland during late Bronze Age.

According to "The Metrical Dindshenchas" Tigernmas and three quoters of his followers died while worshiping Crom Cruaich,  "a cruel deity propitiated with human sacrifice", on the Magh Slécht (Field of Prostration), on 31 October (Samhain, Halloween), 1413 B.C. His grave there is marked by a standing stone.

What is interesting is that this custom of human sacrifices during thanksgiving could have been brought to Ireland by the people known as Fomorians who according to the ancient Irish annals were the first people to settle Ireland. They came to Ireland at some stage during the 4th millennium bc and brought with them the knowledge of agriculture. They lived in Ireland alone for a while.  But then, after the flood, during the 3rd millennium bc came the people of Partholón who are credited with introducing cattle husbandry, ploughing, cooking, dwellings, trade, and dividing the island in four. But then Partholon and all his people later died of plague leaving Fomorians as the single inhabitants of Ireland again. Then The people of Nemed came, the descendants of the brother of Partholon, and they found Fomorians living in Ireland. They fought the Fomorians under Nemed and won. But after Nemed's death, Fomorians enslaved Nemed's people and demanded a heavy tribute: two thirds of their children, grain and cattle. The tribute that Nemedians had to give to Fomorians was exactly the same as the tribute Tigernmas had to give to Crom Dubh. Nemed's son gathered an army of sixty thousand, rose up against them. After a great slaughter on both sides, only thirty of Nemed's people escaped in a single ship, scattering to the other parts of the world, leaving again only Fomorians in Ireland. Well actually the Lebor Gabála Érenn says that when the next invaders, the Fir bolg, came then found Ireland empty. But Lebor Gabála Érenn also seems to suggest that Fir bolg and Fomorians were one and the same people. At least Macalister, the translator and editor of the Lebor Gabála Érenn thought that this could be so when he says that:

"The line between the Fir Bolg and the Fomorians is not clearly drawn…"

What is also very interesting is that Fir Bolg are also said to have been the descendants of Nemed who was the descendant of Partholon's brother. This makes Fomorians and the people of Partholon one and the same people. 

We have to ask ourselves why are the Fomori most directly linked to Fir Bolg. The Lebor Gabála Érenn states:

"Partholon took Ireland: he dwelt there five hundred and fifty years, till the  Cynocephali (dog headed, wolf headed) drave him out, and there escaped [survived] not one of his children alive."

Who were these wolf people?  Macalister suggests that “the Cynocephali introduced into the subsequent Partholon story have no place in the orthodox narrative, unless we are to equate them to the Fomoraig". But maybe they are to be equated with Fir Bolg. What is the old Irish word for wolf? It is "faolchú". Could it be that Fir Bolg are Fir faolchú, wolf people, wolf head people, Cynocephali? The Fir Bolg are first mentioned in the 9th century Historia Brittonum, where they are referred to as the Builc...

Then came the Tuatha Dé Danann, another group of descendants of Nemed who was descendant of Partholon's Brother. They defeated the Fir Bolg in the first Battle of Magh Tuiredh and took possession of Ireland. But then they had to defeat the Fir Bolg again, this time under the name of Fomorians at the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh. Interestingly the Annals of Loch Cé call Magh Tuiredh "Magh-Tuiredh-na-Fomorach" and explain that Magh-Tuiredh what the place "where the Fomorians were imposing their tributes on the men of Erinn..." So here Irish annals are equating Fir Bolg with Fomorians. The name Mag Tuired (modern spelling: Magh Tuireadh) means "plain of pillars" or "plain of towers". Crom Cruach, the god venerated by Tigernmas on Magh Slécht, was represented by a large idol, made completely of gold, which stood on the plain of Magh Slécht  Twelve smaller idols, these of stone, formed a ring around the Crom Cruach. Were pillars which were standing on Magh Tuireadh the same pillars which stood on Magh Slécht and which represented , Crom Cruach (Crom Dubh)??? And if so was Magh Slécht actually the same as Magh Tuireadh?

At the end of the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, Bres, the leader of the Fomorians was found unprotected on the battlefield by Lugh, the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Bres pleaded for his life with him. Lugh spared Bres because he promised to teach the Tuatha Dé Danann agriculture. Bres is said to have possessed the the secret knowledge of "How shall the men plough?  How shall they sow?  How shall they reap?". He gave that secret to Lugh, the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann and his life was spared. From this we clearly see that it was Fomorians who brought the agriculture to Ireland. 

What is interesting about this story is that both Bres, the leader of the Fomorians and Lugh the leader of Tuatha Dé Danann at the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh were half Fomorian and half Tuatha Dé Danann.

Lugh's father was Cian of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and his mother was Ethniu, daughter of Balor, of the Fomorians. Bres's father was Elatha of the Fomorians and Eri, daughter of Delbaith of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

This means that the Tuatha Dé Danann, who are said to have replaced Fomorians as the rulers of Ireland actually claim descent from or at least close kinship with the Fomorians. Actually the line between the Fomorians and the Tuatha Dé Danann is so blurred, that in the "lebor gabála Érenn" we read:  

“At the end of three days and three nights thereafter the Sons of Míl broke the battle of Sliab Mis against demons and Fomoraig, that is, against the Túatha Dé Danann"...

This line literally equates the Fomorians and the Tuatha Dé Danann.

From the above we see that Fomorians brought the secret of the grain agriculture to Ireland and preserved it until the time of Tuatha Dé Danann. We also see that when the Milesians came to Irleand, the Fomorians were still there. Lebor Gabála Érenn tells us that the Irial Fáid father of Ethriel and grandfather of Tigernmas:

"...cleared twelve plains, dug seven royal forts, and fought four battles against the Fomorians..."

The Fomorians were apparently still in Ireland at the time of  Cú Chulainn. In the medieval Irish tale entitled "The Training of Cú Chulainn", preserved as a copy by Richard Tipper in British Library, we read:

"Cúchulainn came to the place and saluted them. 'What is this sorrow or the misery upon you?' says Cúchulainn. The damsel answered and this she said: ‘A royal tribute which the tribe of Fomorians carry out of this country every seventh year, namely, the first-born of the king's children. And at this time it has come to me to go as that tribute, for to the king I am the dearest of his children.’‘What number comes to lift that tribute?’ asks Cúchulainn. ‘Three sons of Alatrom of the Fomorians,’ she answers, ‘and Dub, Mell and Dubros are their names.’"

This means that we still find Fomorians in Ireland during Iron Age, 4000 thousand years after they arrived to Ireland.  

Finally we find Crom Dubh as the main agricultural deity of Ireland in the 5th century AD when St Patrick had to defeat him in order to Christianise the Irish. 

And even today, in some parts of Ireland, the last Sunday in July, which marks the beginning of the harvest season, is called "Domhnach Crom Dubh" which means "Crom Dubh's Sunday"...

So here is the question:

Did Fomorians, who brought agriculture to Ireland, also brought with them their god of agriculture, Crom Cruach (Crom Dubh) and is this why the both Crom Cruach, Crom Dubh and Fomorians demanded human sacrifices? And if Tigernmas was worshiping From Cruach (Crom Dubh), was he worshiping Fomorian god? And if so, was Tigernmas a Fomorian king? I believe so.

James Bonwick thought so too. In the book "Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions" he identified Tigernmas, the king who perished while worhiping Crom Cruach, Crom Dubh, the god of agriculture, with Balor, the King of Fomorians. This is based on the fact that the ancestry of the god Lugh is usually given as Lugh son of Eithliu daughter of Balor but in the text Baile in Scáil it is given as Lugh son of Eithliu son of Tigernmas, thus equating Tigernmas and Balor, the king of Fomorians.

So who were these Fomorians then and where did they come from? Irish historians agree that the name Fomorians means probably sea people, or people who came from across the sea, or sea pirates. Where could have been that land across the sea famous for its sea pirates whose name sounds like Fomori?

This is south Baltic part of Germany and Poland, called Pomerania or Pomorje. 
Pomerania, Pomorje is a Slavic word meaning the land by the sea. The word comes from po + more = by, along + sea. The people living by, along the sea are in Slavic languages called pomori, pomorci, pomorjani, meaning the sea people, coast people. 

This is the territory of Pomerania, Pomorje:




Pomerania (German: Pommern, Latin: Pomerania, Polish: Pomorze) is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. The name Pomerania comes from Slavic po more, which means Land at the Sea. The adjective for the region is Pomeranian (Polish: pomorski, German: pommersch), inhabitants are called Pomeranians (Polish: Pomorzanie, German: Pommern).
This land was famous for its sea pirates and traders. Pomerania is also the place where we find Baltic Slavs who made human sacrifices in medieval time to their gods at the end of harvest at the beginning of November, at Samhain. 

Now remember Tigernmas, the Irish king who died in Mag Slecht, with three fourths of the men of Ireland in his company, on Samhain night to be particular, while worshiping of Crom Cruaich; for he was the king-idol of Ireland? Tigernmas is said to have been the first king to give drinking-horns to his follower. The god to whom Pomeranian Slavs sacrificed people on Samhain was Svetovid. He is sometimes referred to as Beli (or Byali) Vid (Beli = white, bright, shining), and is often depicted with a sword or bow in one hand and a drinking horn in the other. Drinking horn was used for divination during the Slavic ceremonies. In Slavic mythology, the "horn of plenty" is the equivalent of Dagda's "cauldron of plenty". Dagda is then in turn believed to be another name of Crom Dubh, Crom Cruach

In "The Handbook of Religions in Ancient Europe" by Lisbeth Bredholt Christensen, Olav Hammer, David Warburton we read that written source about the Baltic Slavs stress the importance of a feast held in the autumn, in Arcona "after the harvest" and in Riedegost in November.

The harvest in the South Baltic ends at the same time as in Ireland, in October, when the last acorns are collected. So "after the harvest" is basically the same as "in November". And November is actually not "in the autumn" but at the beginning of the winter according to the old Serbian calendar which is the same as the old Irish calendar. I already talked about this calendar in my post about "Two crosses".

A pan Slavic term for sacrifice "treba" means "something that has to be done, something that should be done". Another general Slavic term for feast "zertwa" originally meant sacrifice, the meaning it still has in Serbian. It also meant "to praise god".

Obviously Slavs and particularly Serbs, equated praising god with sacrifice.

Ibn Rosteh noted in the sixt century that Slavs prayed to the god of heaven and fire for good crops. This god of heaven and fire was Dabog, who was also among Serbs known as Triglav. Triglav was, as the Book of Veles states, at the same time Svetovid (Sun god), Perun (Thunder god) and Svarog (Fire god). So when we read in the ancient histories that Slavs sacrificed people to Svetovid and Svarog, there is really no contradiction here.  And what is most interesting is that Dabog (Good, Giving god) was among Serbs also known as Hromi Daba. Which is very close to Chrom Dubh who Máire MacNeill in "The Festival of Lughnasa: A Study of the Survival of the Celtic Festival of the Beginning of Harvest" identifies as another name of Dagda (Good, Giving god). Dáithí Ó hÓgáin in "Myth, Legend & Romance: An encyclopaedia of the Irish folk tradition" identifies Crom Dubh as another name of Donn, god of death and ancestral deity. Which is interesting considering that among Serbs Dabog, Hromi Daba, is also considered to be god of death and ancestor of all Serbs...

Saxo Grammaticus describes the the appeal made by the priest and the people to the Sun god Svetovid (Sventovit), asking for abundant future harvests over a huge offering of bread during the autumnal (read November) feast held in Arcona. This was clearly a thanksgiving mass performed at the end of the harvest period, where thanks was given to the heavenly father for giving the good harvest.

Sources discussing the pre-Christian Slavs briefly mention the sacrifice of animals (mostly Cattle). Cattle, especially bull sacrifice, was since antiquity considered to be a replacement for human sacrifice. In Ireland the main sacrificial animal offered to Crom Dubh was bull, which was sometimes sacrificed at the beginning of the harvest and the beginning of autumn, on Crom Dubh day, the 2nd of August, and sometimes at the end of the harvest, at the end of autumn, the 5th of November, on Samhain.

But in South Baltic Slavic lands, main sacrifice performed during the thanksgiving was clearly human sacrifice. Most of the documentary evidence comes from the West Slavic Polabian area and primarily concerns Lutitians. Brun of Querfurt mentions that the Lutitians carried out human sacrifices to Svarozic, or more precisely, that they offered human blood and human heads to the deity.

This sound strangely similar with the obsession of the ancient Irish with cutting off their enemies heads...Did Irish offer them to their god, Crom Dubh as a sacrifice?

Contemporary chronicles connect the Lutici to the Veleti (Wilti, Vilci). Adam von Bremen (Gesta II,22) refers to them as "Leuticios, qui alio nomine Wilzi dicuntur", and Helmold von Bosau (Chronica Slavorum I,2) says "Hii quatuor populi a fortidudine Wilzi sive Lutici appellantur." Modern scholarship sometimes refers to both entities by a double name, e.g. "Wilzen-Lutizen" in German or "Wieleci-Lucice" in Polish.

There is no certain etymology for the name Wiltzi (Vilci). But what is very interesting is that in Slavic languages Vuk, Volk, Vlk, Vilk means wolf. So the tribal name Wiltzi, Vilci could mean "wolf people". These wolf people, who were also known as Lutitzes, Lutitians are the biggest South Baltic Slavic tribe which is mentioned in relation to the Samhain human sacrifices. Now remember Fir Bolg, who seemed to have been the same as the Fomorians and who seem to have been the same as the Cynocephali, the Dog Headed or Wolf Headed people?? Were Fir Bolg, Fir Faolchú, Wolf People, Volci, Wiltzi from Pomorje, Pomerania? After all both the Irish Fomorians and the Pomeranian Wiltzi performed human sacrifices during Samhain thanksgiving feast...

In "The Handbook of Religions in Ancient Europe" we can further read that according to the earliest account, from approximately 990 written down by Tietmar, a commander of a Polish stronghold surrendered and was then beheaded on the battlefield as a sacrifice. Apparently some years later, the Luttitians similarly executed two missionary monks. This alleged practice of human sacrifice in Rethra is confirmed later by Adam of Bremen, who mentions the martyrdom of the two monks and the execution of Bishop John of Macklenburg on the 10th of November 1068, probably during the annual feast held at that time. The bishop had been captured during a revolt by the neighbouring Obodrites some months earlier, but was sacrificed in Lutitian Rethra at the beginning of November. He was executed on the main square of Reidegost-Rethra, the main sanctuary of the Luttitians. His corpse was dismembered and the head stuck on a spear and offered to the main god of Rethra. The importance of the head of the victim is emphasised by Adam of Bremen, describing how the Lutitians treated the bishop's head 'sacrificing it as a token of victory to their god', probably bringing it to the shrine, while the corpse of the dead bishop, with hands and legs cut off, was left in the consecrated field in front of the sanctuary. Many of our sources specify that human sacrifice took the form of beheading, which may suggest that the sacrificial blood was of some importance. The head as an object of Slavic human sacrifice to Svarozic is mentioned already in 1008 by Saint Brun of Querfurt in his letter to the German king Henry II....The victims of human sacrifice among the Slavs were mostly captured enemies...

The fact that the Bishop John of Macklenburg was kept alive until the beginning of November and only then executed, shows that he was kept as a sacrificial victim for the thanksgiving feast marking the end of the harvest and the end of autumn. This shows that Baltic Slavs might have always made human sacrifices in November, on Samhain, just like Tigernmas was accused of doing in Ireland millenniums earlier.

I believe that so many links between the descriptions of human sacrifices that Fomorians intoduced in Ireland and which were performed on Samhain (beginning of November) and the descriptions of human sacrifices performed by Pomeranians at the beginning of November (Samhain) is astonishing.

Are we here talking about one and the same people, worshiping one and the same Sky god, Good god, Giving god, Dabog (Triglav who is Svetovid, Perun, Svarog) (Dagda), Hromi Daba (Chrom Dubh)? Or is this just another amazing coincidence?

Whatever the answer, I bet you will never look at thanksgiving in the same way.

For the end I will leave you with this image of a Scythian feast taken from a golden plate found in Sachnovka kurgan. If you glance at the image you will see the scene of a joyous party with lots of eating, drinking (from drinking horns) and singing.




But if you look more carefully at the first two figures on the left, you will see this:



A bound man about to be slaughtered as a human sacrifice. Does this image depict what later Slavic chroniclers described as Slavic Samhain Thanksgiving feast?

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Sun mountain

This is Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain of Ireland. This 764 metres mountain is located in County Mayo, 8 kilometres from Westport, above the villages of Murrisk and Lecanvey.


There is a pilgrimage route running from Ballintober Abbey to the summit of Croagh Patrick.


Originally it was the processional road that went from Rathcroghan (Irish: Ráth Cruachan), the seat of the Kings and Queens of Connacht, to Cruachan Aille, as Croagh Patrick was called in Pre-Christian times. Cruachan Aille was at that time the holy mountain of Crom Dubh, old Irish Solar and Agricultural deity. I wrote about Crom Dubh in the article "How old is Crom Dubh" and in many other posts.

After St Patrick defeated Crom Dubh and Christianized his holy mountain Cruachan Aille, the mountain was renamed to Croagh Patrick, Patrick's mountain. The old pre-Christian ceremonial road leading to the holy mountain became Christian pilgrimage route and over time it became known as Tóchar Phádraig or St Patrick’s Causeway. But interestingly, even today, the time of the year when Christian pilgrims walk the Tóchar Phádraig and climb Croagh Patrick, the last Sunday in July, is still called "Domhnach Crom Dubh" which means "Crom Dubh's Sunday"...

The Tóchar Phádraig is dotted with holy places such as holy stones, holy wells, chapels and churches. 

The most unusual, and the most important holy place found along Tóchar Phádraig is the so called Boheh Stone, an outcrop of bedrock from which there is a full view of Croagh Patrick.



The stone is covered in cup and ring marks, and is the only known example in Connaught, and one of the finest examples of neolithic rock art in Ireland and Britain. Official archaeology believes that the stone had been carved as early as 3800 BC. 

Official archaeology "does not know the meaning of the markings found on this stone"...

What is very interesting is that on two days in the year, the 18th of April and the 24th of August, the setting sun, when viewed from this spot, touches the summit of the Mountain, then proceeds to 'roll' down the northern slope. The angle of the Mountain's side matches the declination (setting angle) of the sun at this time and place.

This "rolling sun" phenomenon was rediscovered in 1989–92 by Gerry Bracken.

The extraordinary phenomenon of the rolling sun down the slope of Croagh Patrick was perfectly captured in this animated gif made from still images by one of my favorite Irish photographers, Ken Williams.




You can see a very good video of the event here on YouTube.

Interestingly, the dates on which the rolling sun phenomenon can be observed from the Boheh stone, together with the winter solstice divide the year into three equal parts.

Now remember my post "Rebirth"? In it I talked about the megalithic "tomb", known as the Giant’s Grave, which is situated in the valley of Loch an Dúin on the eastern side of the Conor Pass. Now this "tomb" has a cup and ring mark carved into the large stone near the head of the "tomb". And this cup and ring mark is illuminated twice a year, on the days of spring and autumn equinoxes...I suggested that the cup and ring mark represents the solar year, sun and it's endless cycle of life death and rebirth. 

Now that is interesting. Because there are hundreds of these cup and ring marks carved into the stone which served as a solar observatory from which the amazing rolling sun phenomenon was observed, twice a year...

Is it possible that the cup and ring marks found on the Boheh stone also represent solar year, sun and it's endless cycle of life death and rebirth? But why so many cup and ring marks were carved into the Boheh stone? Well one possible reason is that the Boheh stone was an important Irish wide solar cult ceremonial site, where people from many clans, tribes gathered to worship the sun god. And maybe each one of these cup and ring marks was carved by a different clan or a tribe...Or maybe each one of the cup and ring marks represents one year of pilgrimage. There are over 250 cup and ring marks carved into the stone, which could mean that the ceremony was performed for over 250 years...If each cup and ring mark represents one solar year, why would carving of these solar symbols into the Boheh stone suddenly stop? Well remember my post "Partholon and the great flood"? In it I talked about the Irish ancient histories which talk about the people of Partholon who came to Ireland in 2680 BC only to perish in a "great flood" less than 300 years later...

So is it possible that it was the people of Partholon who carved these cup and ring marks into the Boheh stone, some time during the mid 3rd millennium BC? During their "less than 300 years" in Ireland? Well that would put Boheh stone into exactly the same period into which Giant’s Grave from Kerry was placed, 4500 years ago...The arrival of the Beaker people and metallurgy into Ireland... 

If this is indeed why and when the cup and ring marks were carved into the Boheh stone, this makes Boheh stone even more important... 

Either way, there is no doubt that the symbol is a solar symbol.

The existence of Boheh stone is a proof that Cruachan Aille was venerated as a holy mountain millenniums before St Patrick walked the old pre-Christian ceremonial route, climbed the old holy mountain of Crom Dubh on Crom Dubh Sunday and claimed it all for the Christian faith. As the old Crom Dubh pilgrimage route was renamed to St Patrick’s Causeway, and as Crom Dubh's mountain was renamed to St Patrick's mountain, so was Boheh stone renamed to St Patrick’s Chair.

In my post "Fasting against god" I talked about how "The life of Patrick" talks about how Patrick climbed the holy mountain of Crom Dubh on the Crom Dubh Sunday, fasted there for 40 days and 40 nights and made God give him the rule over Ireland and the Irish. And I asked which god did Patrick win Ireland and the Irish from for himself?

So what do you think about all this?

Friday, 3 November 2017

Love magic doll


Roman "love magic doll", showing nude female bound and stabbed with 13 pins. Found with a lead curse tablet, 2nd-3rd century, Antinoopolis. Currently kept in Louvre. These dolls are called "kolossoi". This one was used in a love magic ritual :)

1. brain: only think about me; 
2. eyes: only have eyes for me; 
2. ears: only have ears for me; 
1. mouth: only speak about me; 
1. heart: only have feelings for me; 
1. vagina: only have desire for me; 
1. anus: only have desire for me; 
2. hands: only work for me;
2. feet: never walk away from me... 

Total 13

Bound: only be mine...

For those who say that this is a horrible custom, I have one question: What do most people today have in mind when they say that they want their partner to be "faithful"?

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Stribog

As I wrote in my post "The power of the thunder giant", the beginning of the harvest is the most critical period of the whole grain vegetative cycle. Sudden storm, heavy rain and particularly strong winds can destroy everything farmers worked for the whole year. On Summer Solstice Sun God was powerful and merciful. On the 2nd of August he is even more powerful but he is angry, angry because his reign is coming to an end. This is why 2nd of August is the real seat of the Sky God. Because this is when he is most dangerous.

And in Serbia, on the 2nd of August (according to Julian calendar) people celebrate "St Stephen the Wind maker". 

St Stephen or St Stephan is traditionally venerated as the Protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity. This means the first one to be killed in the name of Christ, Son of God. Stephen was stoned to death after he was accused by the Jewish authority of Blasphemy.



But in Serbia, this saint is just the Christianized version of Stribog, the old Slavic wind god.



In the epic "Slovo o polku Igorovu" it is said that the winds are the grandsons of Stribog. He was imagined as an old man who had a warrior’s horn with which he woke the winds up. Stribog was especially worshiped in Kievian Russia where they built idols dedicated to him...Festivities in Stribog’s honor were organized in the summer as well as in the winter.

Now I know that the Eastern Slavs worshiped Stribog as a separate deity, but I believe that Stribog was just an attribute of Perun. Here is why. 

Eagle was his sacred animal. Just like Perun's. His sacred plants were hawthorn and oak. Just like Perun's. His day was the 2nd of August. Just like Perun's.  When pledges were made, Stribog was often guarantor who would punish cheaters and wrongdoers. Just like Perun. 

Also apparently we don't officially know what Stribog means. Well in Serbian the word "trti" means "to rub in, to stomp in, to erase". The word "strti, zatrti" means "to destroy utterly, to level to the ground". The word "stri, zatri" is an imperative of "strti, zatrti" meaning "destroy utterly, level to the ground". So Stribog = Stri, Zatri + bog = destroy utterly, level to the ground + god = The one who destroys utterly, who levels to the ground. 


This is wheat field destroyed by a storm. 


All the stalks are broken by wind and rain. This is the nightmare of all grain farmers. And this is what "strti, zatrti", "to destroy utterly, to level to the ground", means. This the terrible power that the Sky God, the Thunder Giant wields. 

Basically Stribog was the destructive face of Perun. It is interesting that in Serbia Stribog was replaced by St Stefan or St Stepan. In Serbian the word "tepati" means "to hit, to beat up" and the word "stepati, zatepati" means "to destroy utterly, to level to the ground". So it is no wonder that Stribog was the favorite god of military commanders. 

Now here is something interesting. In Serbia, Croatia, Stribog was replaced by Stefan, Stepan. 

Stepan could come from stepa + on = destroy utterly, level to the ground + he = the Destoryer. Maybe the name Stepan (Stefan) is just another version of the name Stribog with "bog", meaning god, removed from it? 

But the main meaning of the word "stepan" is the one who is "destroyed utterly, who is leveled to the ground"... It is interesting that the word "stepan" means destroyed, leveled, which is what happens to someone who was stoned to death like St Stepan, Stephen...I will not even go into how come an early Palestine saint, the first martyr of Christianity who was stoned to death, has a name which in Slavic language means "the one one who was utterly destroyed, leveled, killed" which is what happens when you stone someone to death...

Funnily name Stephen or Stephan was originally a title meaning "crowned" or king, the origin of which is in the  Ancient Greek word "στέφανος" which means crown. It was the title given to many kings in medieval Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Poland. Maybe you only get crowned as a king when you utterly destroy, level to the ground everything that stands in your way...

Or maybe Stepan, Stefan and στέφανος have nothing to do with each other and everything is just a coincidence...

And here is the best bit: Stribog was particularly popular with princes, who often built his idols and worshiped them....There is something poetic about the fact that Stribog was the favorite idol of the princes, who are waiting for their fathers to die so that they can inherit the throne. Perun as Stribog is the sun god in his most terrible, super powerful but on the way out and knowing that he is on the way out. The winter is coming and his power is vanning and in December he will die and will be replaced by his son, the "new sun", "little king of heaven", "prince of heaven". And there is nothing Old Sun God can do. This is just the way things are. 

I love this.