Tag Archives: Asatru

Ancestral Journeys: The Black Loyalists, Canada, and the Specter of Racism

Following the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783 (Treaty of Paris) some 40,000+ British Loyalists withdrew from the newly formed United States of America to settle in various parts of the British Province of Quebec and the Colony of Nova Scotia.

Among their numbers were some 3,000 Afro-American Loyalists.

These settled primarily in Nova Scotia.

You might have heard of them within the context of the modern political narrative; of their unfair and/or inadequate treatment by the Crown; of the race riots that took place in Nova Scotia between the Loyalists; and of their subsequent petitioning of a rough third of those black Loyalists to the Crown for resettlement in some more hospitable climes. This petition was acknowledged and granted, resulting in the founding of Freetown, Sierra Leone in West Africa.

We hear much less of course of the stress, the hardships, the suffering and frustration, that all of the Loyalists were under those first couple of years; already disheartened (to say the least) at having come up on the losing side of the war. And thus being forced to abandon the lands of their birth and upbringing, along with most if not all of their worldly possessions. And then to be effectively dropped in the middle of the vast North American wilderness, to watch one’s loved ones go hungry when the promised rations did not come in, and then to meet with typical government ineptitude and inefficiency in the surveying and assigning of land.

Naturally, people were a little bit stressed. And so things got out a little out of hand. At least here and there.  And on an occasion or two. With both sub-groups of Loyalists giving and receiving their collective lumps.

These things can happen among men; who can afterwards be men about it.

See the source image

We also don’t hear too much today about how the 2,000 odd Afro-American Loyalists that remained in British North America fared after the departure of the fellows for Sierra Leone. You know, once order was brought to the chaos, foundation established, and folks settled into the patterns of their new lives and homelands. On this point the site blackloyalist.com states,

Economically, the Black Community’s position showed improvement within the decade. Many Blacks completed their indenture terms and more Blacks working as apprentices began to qualify for trades. By 1812, employers could not find enough Blacks to fill available work and wages rose accordingly. During the war of 1812, Blacks volunteered in militia and formed three separate Black Corps.

Now, as a descendant of the District of Mecklenburg Loyalists, I was a little taken aback by some of the complaints made, by people today I must assume, regarding the treatment of the black Loyalists. After all, we white Loyalists were also settled along ethnic and religious lines. We also starved the first few years. Some of us also left. We were also sent essential equipment that was entirely inadequate. In the case of some of us, receiving hatchets rather than proper axes as part of our initial supplies, with land needing clearing, cabins needing building, and winter quite literally coming. We also had to wait on surveys and deal with bungles, while the officers got better and more land. Some of us got lots (of land) that were basically useless. And we were also, particularly us Bay of Quinte folk, about as far as you could get outside of the established supply chain and still be considered part of it, ie. up two weeks (wilderness) travel, round trip.

We all had it hard.

But what really struck me from the quote above was the mention of trades, employers, and wages!

Seriously???

We didn’t have those things in 1812 Hastings county.

Maybe they had them in Kingston.

In fact, many of us fell into illiteracy for a generation or two, as we put our nose to the grind of simple survival and working toward the kind of prosperity that, in due time, ushers in things like trades, jobs, wages, and literacy. We bartered in labour with our neighbours and newcomers, and being so inconveniently situated in the supply chain, we were regularly low-balled by the merchants when we brought our produce to market; which is something I hear we made up for during the War of 1812.

But the point is that once we made it through the hard years, that were hard on all of us Loyalists, those that remained got our feet on the ground, settled and prospered.

While Afro-Americans are a rare sight in the historical records of the Bay of Quinte region (aka the District of Mecklenburg), they do appear here and there, and in much the same manner and capacity as most any other person in the region; being named in the censuses, being baptized, getting married, etc. As for Afro-American slaves, they simply were not a significant thing, as such, among us. It is said that Major Vanalstine brought some up with him after the war, but by 1793 the Act Against Slavery was passed in the second legislative assembly of Upper Canada, effectively Anglo-Canada, which prohibited the introduction of any more slaves into the colony, required that any existing offspring born to a slave woman be released upon reaching the age of 25 years, and even forbade voluntary submission to the state of slavery. And of course by 1834 the British parliament passed its Slavery Abolition Act which effectively brought an end to the institution within the British Empire.

And note here that slavery was a default institution found in all human societies; European, Asian, African, American, no matter. And it was the English that abolished it. Not the Coast Salish or Bantu peoples. Not the Jews or the Arabs or the Chinese. And for that matter, not the Greeks or the French or the Germans. Or even the Danes.

The English abolished slavery.

Everyone followed in our footsteps. Or in the case of the Arabs and of modern Africans themselves, they didn’t follow in our footsteps and slavery is still practiced in those regions today.

And I say this all with the grudging addition that the decision was inspired in no small part by Christian principles and long-standing Christian tradition; though we were hardly the only nation in the world to have been Christian at the time. Or Germanic for that matter!

And moreover, it came at monumental expense to us. And not simply in economic terms, but in pure flesh and blood human terms as well.

And from there, it was all downhill, with Canada’s Afro-American communities growing strong, stable, and self-sufficient, able to boast their own achievers and achievements, on through Confederation and into the 20th century. And this has left the authors of racial division having to stray off into immigration policy by this point  in order to build even the semblance of an argument for “Canadian racism” and all the word “racist” implies (or at least used to) to your average Anglo-Canadian of the 20th and 21st centuries.

While a 1911 declaration by Wilfred Laurier placed the immigration of any “negros” into the country on moratorium, this was largely because the Eastern Europeans, as a result of native climate, culture, and associated breeding, were deemed more fit to the task of developing the cold, windswept lands of the Canadian prairies. And of course within a decade a wave of “negro” immigration began to roll in from the Caribbeans all the same.

In fact, over the next 100 years to present, Canada has received over 800,000 black immigrants; with Jamaica and Haiti being its main sources, both overall and early on, and African countries coming more into vogue over the last few of decades.

Presently, less than 9% of the Afro-Canadian population is comprised of native Loyalists and other pioneering Afro-Americans of the late 18th and 19th centuries.

A full 91% of Canada’s Afro-Canadian population (1.2 million) is comprised of first or second generation immigrants; which will be the case for 50% of all Canadians by 2036 and, with the goal of hitting population 100 million by 2100, shall (ahem) “define” Canada by the end of the century.

Which brings us back around to the prevailing narrative that Canada is “racist to the core”.

Quite simply, while Canada is by no means perfect, as the prevailing political situation makes abundantly evident, the mere suggestion that it is racist, and specifically racist against black people, is entirely laughable and completely unfounded outside of isolated minutia and statistical games of smoke and mirrors. Not to diminish any tragedies any specific families or individuals might have actually suffer, or to turn a blind eye to honest statistics and/or specific incidences that should gives us all cause for concern, but the fact that horrible things happen in Canada, even for horrible reasons, is not evidence that Canada is thus a horrible country.

Over 800,000 black people did not chose to immigrate to Canada throughout its history to date because it is a horrible country that treats blacks poorly. Unless of course we are to assume that they were all incapable of making intelligent decisions? In fact, when compared to such black dominant, black policed, black ruled countries as Jamaica or Haiti, or even the “Rainbow Nation” itself (South Africa), a black person still enjoys more far more freedom from violence and oppression, along with a general higher standard of living and availability of opportunity here in Canada.

While I cannot find information on the homicide rate of Afro-Canadians in specific, it seems fair to assume that it is below the 4.22 (per 100,000) reported for First Nations women in 2017. Using that as our (admittedly questionable) number, this would still rank Canada as a statistically safer country to be black in than 33 out of the 54 odd countries that make up the vast continent of Africa. And of those 21 “safer” countries we find a motley assortment of predominantly Arab-Berber (ie. not black) North African countries, British ruled countries, happily small and homogeneous countries, and others that more than make up for their low homicide rates with state corruption and blatant violations of human rights.

Of the 18 African and Caribbean countries that Canada has actually drawn significant numbers (ie. 10,000+) of immigrants from, only four have lower homicide rates than the above number assumed for blacks in Canada, and they are themselves otherwise characterized by a dominant Arab-Berber demographic, and/or by wide-spread corruption and gross human rights violations. The other 14 range from somewhat more dangerous to much more dangerous, to the excessively more dangerous of Jamaica (murder rate 43.85 in 2018) and South Africa (murder rate 36.4 in 2018).

But speaking of Africa, remember those Loyalists that left British North America to found Freetown? Well, getting back to them and things we don’t hear too much about, we don’t hear too much about how they fared in their new African home. We hear virtually nothing for instance about how the black Loyalists were greeted upon arrival by lethal attacks from the indigenous (black) population of the region. But really, feel free to look into the history of Freetown yourself if you’re so inclined, and beyond citing its seemingly modest homicide rate of 1.71 in 2015, I’ll leave it at this quote from the site statecrime.org and its article Introducing State Crime in Sierra Leone,

…long before the conflict (civil war), Sierra Leone had a history of corrupt regimes, the violent suppression of civil society, and state sponsored theft of national resources… Since the end of the conflict Sierra Leone has been regularly highlighted for acute levels of poverty and high rates of corruption. With a high infant mortality rate, a low life expectancy, and overwhelming unemployment, only in 2009 was Sierra Leone elevated from the bottom of the Human Development Index… according to the World Bank governance indicators, unemployment is increasing, while control of corruption and government effectiveness have been steadily decreasing since 2003. This is despite the creation of an Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) that is tasked with monitoring and stamping out corruption… in recent years there has been an alarming trend towards ethnic based violence.

So, while Canada cannot be said to be without racism, because no country can, a few things are clearly in view for the astute (and not so astute) observer to plainly see. First and foremost, that far from being racist against blacks, Canada is, by any holistic standard, one of the best places in the world for a black man, and especially a black woman, to live. And two, that if significant racism does exist in Canada, most poignantly of the state endorsed variety, it exists against both First Nations and Founding Nations; the former of whom are due to be dealt with separately as the unique case they are, and latter of whom are experiencing it straight across the West, within their own ethnic homelands, and in direct contravention of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The UNRIP conveniently redefines the word indigenous to purposefully exclude ethnic Europeans in Europe. And this despite the fact that even the Anglo-Saxons for example have been in the British Isles for considerably longer than,say, the Thule-Inuit have been in the Canadian arctic, while the Normans have been in the British Isles themselves for considerably longer than the Bantu have been in South Africa. And finally, it is obvious that if racism is Canada’s biggest problem, then there are clearly exponentially bigger problems a country can have than “racism”.

Such as “whatever it is” that results in a homicide rate of 30+ for example or leads the world in child rape!

Not to in any way imply, as I trust is evident from my various blog entries here, any kind of blind faith in the state. Including the state of Canada. As a 21st century man of Anglo-Nordic heritage I don’t need to be told, by any one, about the dangers of an overweening and self-entitled state; much less by those marching in full goosestep to the beat of the prevailing doctrine of the (globalist) state. Our history as Anglo-Nordic peoples with the state goes way back. And even in the earliest of preChristian times a delicate balance of power existed between our proto-state/s and the folk; in which authority led more by respect born from example and less by command/power; in which the folk sat down at assembly armed; where, outside of the most extreme of crimes, the law was largely civil and fine-based; and where in the words of Tacitus, “good habits are (here) more effectual than good laws elsewhere“.

There is of course no wishing the “wolf of the state” out of existence. That genie has long since been let out of the bottle, and there is a world full of competing states, along with a host of wouldbe warlords, all mouths agape, that would promptly step in to fill any power vacuum left by its absence.  And indeed the wolf of the state is not without its objective virtues; even if they have generally tended to come via serendipity, required a heck of a lot of work and foresight, and violence and hardship, to beat into an moderately acceptable shape, and always carries with it a host of inherent dangers and evils that must constantly be watched and held to account lest it over-step its bounds and begin devouring its charges and contravening its very reason to exist.

We Anglo-Nordic folk are no strangers to historical injustices perpetuated against us by the state, and particularly by the elitist imperial/colonial/globalist state, from whose standpoint we Celto-Germanic peoples were among the first in a very long and very ethno-culturally diverse line/web of “savages” who “needed” to be civilized by any means necessary.

No, no.

I’m a pro-gun, small state, honest celebrant of true diversity kinda guy.  With an inherent, but nevertheless healthy mistrust of the state; so necessary to capitalize, in human currency, on the state’s functional value in the face of the greater world.

The abuse of power, the excessive use of force by the state on its citizens is everyones concern. The seriousness and ramifications of such affronts are done a grave disservice in the racialization of the issue, in which the BLM rhetoric regarding “standing as allies” against it involves, as requisite, that one condemn not only themselves, but their ancestors, and even their new born children as over-privileged, hate filled racists. And, well, that isn’t going to happen. And personally, that is the exact opposite direction that the current of my life has been carrying me, and the exact same direction the current of history has been carrying my folk (and yours) along in for almost 1400 years now.  And that kind of divisiveness from BLM and its ilk, in the face of such a serious and all-inclusive affront, is exactly what the wouldbe tyrant ordered.

If these types truly cared one wit about black lives, they wouldn’t be preaching to the converted about the value of life, muchless making mass generalizations based on skin tone. They would be carrying their message and directing their resources to where they are truly necessary; namely, the black populations of such places as Toronto, Chicago, and South Africa, as well as the snake-oil politicians, entertainment moguls, and social justice fanatics that promote thug-culture, attribute the characteristics of success and failure to skin colour, and sow the seeds of hatred and division both within racial groups and among we, the people.

“A king’s son… an uppity thrall… none should be so trusting as to trust in these.”

— the Havamal

Ancestral Journeys: Canadian Heathen

Over the past couple of decades or so I have increasingly stressed the importance of ancestral continuity and the, one might say blindingly self-evident reality that our folk did not cease to be with the conversion of the last king and the introduction of the diluting influence of “the Church”. Those first generation Christians are as much a part of our ancestry and ancestral legacy, indeed, as much a part of our identity, as the last generation among the parents or grandparents of us modern day Anglo-Nordic Heathens; ancestry and kin being a biological reality and not at all the social construct that many modern heathens, even on the Folkish side ironically enough, insist that it is.

Those historical Christians are our ancestors. They are not another tribe or folk. And their stories, both collectively and individually, are just as relevant to us, as modern folk of Anglo-Nordic belief, as those of the Icelandic sagas; which themselves are stories about the cultural “neighbours” of our personal ancestors and kin and as such offer “more branches than roots” and leave those aspects of the folk soul, those closest to us as individuals, dormant and un-nourished.

As a Canadian myself, the stories of the arrival of my ancestors, both personal and collective, and their deeds in the “New World” are every bit as important, from the standpoint of Anglo-Nordic belief in the New World, as the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons or Danes in Britannia over 1300 years ago, or, for the person of Icelandic ancestry, the arrival of the Norse in Iceland. And speaking as someone who long ago settled with the broad brushstrokes of ethno-cultural identity, as, at worst, where even the descendants of kings ultimately find themselves, I must admit that the knowledge of self gained via personal ancestry and lines of descent is palpable… stirring aspects of the soul one might not even known were there until actually quickened.

Such was my experience in the wake of Allhallowstide 2019 anyway; having scrolled by a Ancestry.ca advertisement offering free access to military records leading into Memorial Day and deciding to check it out to see if I might be able to find something on my long lost father. It’s nothing that I haven’t done before on the internet, engaging in casual, whimsical searches for information on my father. And so I was actually quite surprised when, low and behold, I actually found something this time around! And this led to touching base with my father’s first wife, and then his younger brother, and finally to connecting with my half-sister (from his third wife).

Moreover, it really opened up my knowledge of personal ancestry, and gave me a much better appreciation of my history as a Canadian

As for his patrilineal heritage, that is, the direct Martin line, it runs back to my great-great-great-great grandfather, James Martin, who was born in 1777, some two years into the American Revolutionary War, and seems to have grown up in the state of Delaware; which itself had barely signed off on its own declaration of independence, which had a strong and active Loyalist population, and which was largely under British control from 1777 to the end of the war in 1783. He arrived in the township of Thurlow, in the Mecklenberg District of the British held “Province of Quebec”, in 1790 when the township was receiving its first wave of “United Empire Loyalist” and other “Late Loyalist” pioneers; the distinction between the two being, those had had declared their loyalty to the Crown prior to the end of the American Revolutionary War in 1783, and those who demonstrated their loyalty… some time thereafter.

1783engl_0Exactly what prompted James’ removal from Delaware — or wherever else he might have hailed from — to Thurlow is anyone’s best guess. The division between Loyalists and Patriots, all more or less of the same stock, with much the same cultural values, sensibilities, idiosyncrasies, and expectations, is often over-stated by politicians and their historians and teachers, and while gross abuses certainly took place, here and there, and were perpetrated on both sides, no sooner had the war ended then those whimsical ideological “divisions” melted away and the old familial and cultural bonds reasserted themselves. Bonds that continue to exist even into the present day, and are the reason why, despite wars (1812) and raids (Fenian), the Canadian-American border has still managed to remain the worlds longest unprotected border; though present circumstances are, and quite rightly, challenging the nature of that border.

The best that can be said is that, whatever the motivating influence, James was likely among the “large number of Loyalists from the United States” that arrived in the township in 1789, among whom we find the names, Russell Pitman, Archibald McKenzie, Solomon Hazelton, __<illegible>__ McMichael, William Cook, Sedic Thrasher, Asa Turner, Stephen and Laurence Bagley, John Taylor, William Reed, and his sons, Samuel, William, John and Solomon, Richard Smith, John Longwell, Conelly, and Sherard.

Early records also show a John Martin as a soldier in Sir John Johnson 84th regiment, the men and families of which populated the early Mecklenburg settlements, and who might be the same as the John Martin that settled on concession 5, lot 1 of the Sydney township in 1790, which neighbours Thurlow to the west. It has been suggested that James might have been his son.

Whatever the case, among the previously mentioned names, two are of particular interest. The first, and most pertinently, Richard Smith, a United Empire Loyalist who was the father of James’ future wife, Mehitabel Smith (born 1790). And the second, more frivolously, being Sedic (or Zadoc, or simply “Old Man”) Thrasher. He appears alongside James as a co-witness in an early land deal record, but is most notable for the fact that he gave his name to Thrasher’s Corner, as the sight of a legendary encounter he had with two fully grown black bears, in which he reportedly killed both with a cudgel!

But to give a clear sense of the circumstances of those early pioneers, it should be stated that, prior to 1784, everything west of Montreal, and certainly the Mecklenburg District, was heavily wooded, undeveloped wilderness, sparsely occupied to various, ever-shifting degrees by the natives of the region, and frequented hitherto only by a relatively small number of French fur-traders operating out of Fort Cataraqui (future Kingston). Of the initial 40,000 Loyalists that evacuated the U.S. at the close of the war, most of whom went to the Maritimes, a mere 10,000 were settled along a tract of land that stretched a rough 850 kilometers from the St.Lawrence littoral west of Montreal over the northern shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Eerie to finally touch the banks of the Detroit River. There were no roads, with the original settlers reaching their destinations and otherwise traveling by bateaux, and even the most easterly of the townships, Kingston, was over 200 kms outside of the supply network.

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Effectively, the early Loyalists found themselves in the same position as their Colonial forefathers of some 150 years earlier; which brings to mind the words of Mr. D. W. Allison, a former MP for Lennox county, who in 1884 said,

These men were not inconsiderate youths; they were men, most of them of mature years, and some advanced in life, who won for themselves comfortable independence in a country south of us. At what they conceived to be the call of duty, they were ready to sacrifice everything that men commonly hold dear; resign the wealth they had accumulated, forfeit their prospects — their own and their children’s — for sake of their loyalty to the flag under which they had served, and under which many of them had fought and bled. That was not an ordinary act, and men who performed it were cast in no ordinary mould . Nowadays it is far too common to judge a man’s acts by the standard of mere material success. These men had something nobler and loftier before them.

While the Crown most certainly did its best to reciprocate their loyalty, and not simply in free grants of (untamed and largely inaccessible) land, but also in terms of essential tools and supplies, including a promise of three years of rations, these tools at times proved to be grossly inadequate, such as sending hatchets rather than proper tree-felling axes — not at all a small problem when you have land to clear and cabins to build! — while the promise of rations did not last much more than a year. This not only led to much suffering and starvation, but also to more than a few Loyalists packing it in and returning, at the earliest available opportunity, to the relative comfort and luxury of the United States.

While Kingston immediately had a mill up and running by 1784, it would not be until 1790, the year of James’ self-attested arrival in Thurlow, that Capt. Myers finally built the first grist mill in Thurlow; thus laying the first stone in the foundation of the future city of Belleville and sparing the local yeomen a grueling 40 mile overland trek to the mill at Napanee. The following year would see the first (official) Methodist saddle-bag ministers begin to ride their Kingston circuit, with the first Methodist meeting house in the Quinte Bay region, Adolphustown to be specific, being built by 1792, but it would still be a decade or more before the infrastructure of early 19th century civilization slowly began to catch up with the Loyalists. During this formidable time, many of the offspring of the Loyalists fell into illiteracy, as luxury was sacrificed for the demands of necessity, while church records from the early 19th century, show numerous individuals, and even entire families, coming forth to be baptized.

Nevertheless, by 1791, the Loyalists had gently brushed off the (largely) “benevolent dictatorships” of the military leaders that had guided them into their new lands and saw them safely through the hardships of the first years, in favour of men in whose position they themselves had some say, and asserted their English identity in the formation of Upper Canada (modern day Ontario), as a political entity quite distinct from the enduring and predominantly French nature of what was thence forth to be known as Lower Canada. By 1792, the District of Mecklenburg was renamed the Midland District, and the counties of Addington, Frontenac, Hastings, Lennox, Ontario, and Prince Edward were established within it.

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For all of that, by the outbreak of the War of 1812, no more than a dozen structures stood on the site of what would grow in to city of Belleville, and while a dirt road now ran the length from York to Kingston it is said to have been largely impassable for much of the year. The population of Belleville had yet to reach 150 people, the township of Thurlow as a whole could have been no greater than 1,500, while the entire Midland District had as yet to reach a population of 15,000. By way of contrast with Lower Canada, the population of the city of Montreal alone was at this time around 15,000.

The far off settlement of York, which would grow into the city of Toronto, had a population of less than 1,000 people in 1812, while Bytown, which would grow into the city of Ottawa had, maybe, half of that, with the total population of Upper Canada being no greater than 77,000. As for Kingston, its population stood at just over 2,000 and it had already resumed the importance as a strategic military position it had enjoyed under French occupation.

As for the War of 1812, James Martin’s name regularly appeared in the rolls for the Hastings County militia between the years of 1812 to 1814, but whatever state of readiness that news of the Battle of Crysler’s Farm or the capture and sacking of York, both in 1812, prompted in the men of Hastings county, the entire affair soon came to be regarded, and quite happily given their strong and enduring ties with their American brethren, as a non-starter that served no higher purpose than to keep them away from their homes, families, and work in the fields; thus resulting in a number of desertions, which were, nevertheless, met with due leniency on behalf of the Crown.

In all ways, James seems to have been a capable, contributing and respected yeoman of Thurlow, and his name has survived in five land transactions in the surviving records of this early epoch — most of which went missing with the outbreak of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 and the desertion of a certain clerk who shall go unnamed — in the capacity of grantor, grantee, and witness, over the two year leading up to the birth of his son, my great-great-great grandfather, John Martin, in 1816.

The last appearance of James in the historical record comes in 1835, where he sells his property in Thurlow and is also named in the marriage record of John. However, by the time his wife, Mehitabel, made her own land petition in 1840 — her status as the immediate offspring a United Empire Loyalist entitled her to 200 acres — she was a widow.

Here it is interesting to note a couple of things. First, that Mehitabel made her 1840 land petition from the township of Tyendinaga (which neighbours Thurlow to the east), as this is where John’s eldest son, Thomas, was born in 1846; and in all likelihood also his daughter, Mehitabel (1847), and my own great-great grandfather, John Francis (1848). And second, that a James Martin is named as one of the pioneers of the township of Hungerford (which neighbours Tyendinaga to the north), which received its first wave of settlers, some 15 families, in 1826 to 1828. While there is no way of knowing if this was my James Martin, and with the scenario certainly begging us to wonder what the prospect of starting over — literally from the scratch of undeveloped, forested wilderness — might have looked like to a 57 year old man, it is nevertheless in Hungerford that we find John and each of his children no later than 1860.

And on a fairly decent plot of land at that!

Who knows, maybe James “chased” the frontier? Or at least enabled his son too? He certainly wouldn’t be the first of our kind to do so.

And indeed by the year 1860, civilization had come to at least the southern reaches of Hastings County and the Great Migration had all but ran its course. The first macadamized road, running from Napanee to Kingston was completed in 1839, to be followed by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1856, and in that time the population of Belleville swelled to 7,000, that of Kingston to 17,000, and all of Upper Canada to almost 1.4 million. Even Hungerford had grown from a population of 646 in 1839 to somewhere in the ballpark of 4,000 in 1860 and was now linked to Belleville via a gravel road.

As for James’ religion and ethnicity; while his son John was both baptized and then married as a Roman Catholic — on the same day, with the same witnesses and by the same priest — this conversion did not long outlive his wife, my great-great-great grandmother, Margaret Young; who died within a couple of years of my great-great grandfather’s birth. In the first census testimony, John’s religion is stated as Methodist, as per many of his fellow Loyalists in Mecklenburg. And as was the case with each of his descendants until my grandfather married a (French) Catholic woman and briefly brought Catholicism back into the family. I myself was baptized a Catholic as a baby. And yes, as a Anglo-Nordic Heathen, of course it shows! That said, we should not be too quick to jump to conclusions as to what their Christianity meant to them, or what it might look like to us if we could actually see it, growing as it did out of the culture of the 13 Colonies with its seers and astrologers and hexenmeisters — among which I can boast an ancestor or distant relative or two! — and a hearted willingness to concede that pagans, pagan Mohawks to be specific, could also be considered pious at the same time!

As for James’ ethnicity,  while future census testimony dances back and forth between English and Irish, DNA testing, on both my half-sister and myself, shows a greater presence of English and Danish than it does of “Irish” (Gaelic), and so this might represent some conflation of facts, equally true, each in their own measure, akin to the Anglo-Norman heritage of Galway or the Anglo-Scottish heritage of Ulster.

And that about ties it up for this entry, so let me leave off with a quote that very much captures the sense of what I have drawn from a knowledge of my own Loyalist past, and as someone who can also boast an ancestor who was in fact a captain in the Continental Army and spent four years in a Canadian “dungeon”,

what these men sought to prevent was a division which France sought to foster between the great portions of the English race. I believe the Loyalists, and the people of Canada who derive their inspiration from them, can best do justice to the spirit of their forefathers by doing what they can to bring together in a union all the English-speaking races in the world… if not under one Sovereign, at any rate in one alliance offensive and defensive...”

— Sir Richard Cartwright, 1884

 

Good day, eh!

 

 

Germanic Belief and Religious Tolerance

The preChristian Germanic peoples have often been characterized by historians, particularly by early Catholic historians,  “hateful of a higher religion, and so, like spoilt and envious children lashed out to destroy it”. We hear the same thing, though mostly from modern historians, about their character and regard for Imperial Roman civilization, but, while fundamentally similar, that is a matter best dealt with separately and on its own.

As for this supposed intolerance of the Germanic people for Christianity; it is best exemplified in the martyring of Sabbas and other Gothic Christians in the latter half of the 4th century AD.  According to the 5th century AD historian, Sozomenus,

“Athanaric’s men placed an idol on a cart and conducted it to the tents of those who were thought to be Christians. Suspects were ordered to worship the idol and to offer sacrifice. Those who refused were burned in their dwellings.”

That however is just a snap shot of a moment in history.

In fact, the Goths first came into contact with (Arian) Christianity in the mid-3rd century AD via their raids into the eastern Mediterranean region, from which they carried home many Christian slaves. And within the space of 100 years, the Bible had been translated into Gothic and Christianity had grown enough among the ethnic Goths to invite the serious attention of their kings and nobles.

Strange is it not? That a people supposedly so “envious” and “hateful” of a foreign faith would not only allow its presence but also its proliferation within their community. Indeed, when Athanaric’s men began their persecution of Gothic Christians a number of their non-Christian kith and kin, for better or worse, attempted to shield or otherwise hide the Christianity of their loved ones from the King’s men. Good ol’ St.Sabbas however denounced got wind of this and utterly denounced such Christians. And so went and got himself (among others) martyred.

It is worth noting that Athanaric’s distaste for Christianity was not a general phenomenon, directed against all Christians, but was directly mostly against Gothic converts. It is also worth noting Sabbas’ own willful contempt for the customs and community of the Goths. It is nothing at all unfamiliar to us from the earlier interactions of Christianity with the Roman Empire, when zealous converted went out of their way to blaspheme the state divinities in hopes of being fed to the lions and becoming a martyr for the cause. And it is also all too familiar from later interactions between the Continental Germanic tribes and Christianity; as perhaps best characterized in Willibrord’s baptism of a number of converts in the sacred spring on Fosites Island, followed by his slaughter of a number of sacred cattle for a subsequent feast. For this, Willibrord was brought before the Frisi-King, Radbod, to face capital charges for sacrilege.

Yes. Our ancestors most certainly had blasphemy and sacrilege laws. More properly, they had pious thew, they were what the Anglo-Saxons called aefast, while the law was an offender’s best hope of not being executed on the spot by an outraged mob.

Just ask Willibrord.

As for Sabbas and his ilk, they refused to partake of the sacrificial meat served up at the holy tides, which is of course tantamount to publicly rejecting the community,  refusing to take part in its spirit. He refused even just a token sign that, “despite your different beliefs, you are one of us”. The kingly hostility that he and his invoked was less a matter of a rejection of the Gothic divinities, though it was that too, and much more a rejection of the (holistic) community itself, gods and all. Basically, they proclaimed themselves to be subversives; more than happy to profit from their position among the Goths, but utterly reluctant to embrace that community and take part in it’s sacral identity.

Centuries later in the Viking Age, King Hakon the Good of Norway would find himself in a similar predicament when presented with the sacral mead at one of the holy tides; which caused a lot of concern among the gathered. He found a way around this Christian inspired reluctance by making the sign of the cross over the draught before taking it, while his confidants explained that he made the sign of the hammer over it.

This saved the king from an ordeal not entirely unlike that of wretched Sabbas, and born of much the same reasons.

Nevertheless, from Clovis of Frankland to AEthelbeorht of Kent to Penda of Mercia to Angantyr (Ongendus) of Denmark to Radbod of Frisia, we see time and time and time again Heathen kings receiving Christian missionaries with a right good will; extending protection to them, provisioning them, giving them the freedom to preach and win converts, sending them off with noble youths to be educated in the foreign beliefs, and treating them about as well as anyone could honestly ever hope or expect to be treated.

Not all of these kings ended up converting. And forsooth, not all of them remained at all friendly to Christianity; as one might expect when you extend every hospitality to a guest who then goes on to repay you by “destroying your house”, but, while Germanic ethics are not at all above “putting one’s best foot forward”, they ultimately hinge on reciprocity.

In fact, it was never the Germanic peoples who had any baleful preconceived notions about Christians or had any kind of special, or even common, hatred for them, or any other religion or culture. History itself utterly refutes such an absurd suggestion. And one need not look very far to discover where the inherent contempt for foreign beliefs comes from. It is clear and evident in historical Christianity. Not so much in our regard for outsiders, their culture and belief, save in reactionary retaliation for assaults on the heart and soul of our people, and the integrity of our community.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

“(King) Raedwald (of East Anglia) was long ago made acquainted, in Kent, with the sacraments of the Christian faith, but in vain; for on his return home, he was perverted by his wife, and certain perverse teachers, and having been turned aside from the sincerity of the faith, his last state became worse than his first, so that, after the manner of the Samaritans of old, he seemed both to serve Christ and the gods which he before served: and in the same temple had both an altar for the sacrifice of Christ, and a small altar for the victims offered to demons.”

— Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation

“King Penda himself did not forbid the preaching of the Faith to any even of his own Mercians who wished to listen; but he hated and despised any whom he knew to be insincere in their practice of Christianity once they had accepted it, and said that any who despised the commandments of the God in whom they professed to believe were themselves despicable wretches.”

— Bede, the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation

“Early in spring King Olaf went eastwards to Konungahella to the meeting with Queen Sigrid (of Sweden); and when they met the business was considered about which the winter before they had held communication, namely, their marriage; and the business seemed likely to be concluded. But when Olaf insisted that Sigrid should let herself be baptized, she answered thus: — “I must not part from the faith which I have held, and my forefathers before me; and, on the other hand, I shall make no objection to your believing in the god that pleases you best.” Then King Olaf was enraged, and answered in a passion, “Why should I care to have thee, an old faded woman, and a heathen bitch?” and therewith struck her in the face with his glove which he held in his hands, rose up, and they parted. Sigrid said,”This may some day be thy death.””

— Snorri Sturlusson, Heimskringla

 

Indigenous belief, Christianity and Ancestor Worship

An interesting question was asked over the chat in yesterdays Mimir’s Brunnr; How do you reconcile indigenous ancestor worship with generations of Christian ancestors?

I’d like to say the question baffles me. As much as the Christian denunciation of Heathenry as our ancestral faith because, “your ancestors were all Christian!”.

I’d like to say it baffles me, the sheer narrow minded, intellectualized and artificial nature of both the question and denunciation, but if I did it would only be by virtue of hindsight. Indeed, it is something I continue to wrestle with even today, for all that Wyrd has already taken care of all this for us.

I mean, we might have a problem with it, ie. Christianity, but there we have have, not only in the last, what, 50 generations or so of our ancestry, but outward and surrounding us in the present-tense, among our family, friends, and community.

We either have Christianity surrounding us among our folk, or we have the product/s of our culturo-historical experience with Christianity; of which we people of Anglo-Nordic belief are ourselves one example of.

Whether you can reconcile it in your mind or not, well, like “horns and horses” or “goats and thunder”, THERE IT IS. All of a piece in the heritage set at the foot of your cradle.

Something that I spotted out fairly early on as a Heathen was a tendency, perhaps subconscious as was the case with me, but a tendency nevertheless to imagine that the adoption of different gods somehow made us an entirely different form of man from our generations of Christian ancestors. And it only takes a sideways glance at 50 mph to see, historically, where this emphasis on ideological differences comes from. Who was it, historically, that imagined their ancestors were a completely different form of man? Such that they called them soulless, godless, lawless savages, and (ahem) “refused” to even bury their dead in the same graveyards as their ancestors?

So, while there is an ideological division there, certainly worthy of our thought and consideration, it was not born of our “folk-soul”. And it should never be allowed to define our folk-soul, which would, by its very nature, attempt to define our folk-soul out of existence.

And certainly, while I am none too sure about your own ancestors, mine weren’t exactly the “Church Fathers” demanding, under threat of law, that my ancestors bury their dead, not in native graveyards, but in Christian graveyards. My ancestors, Christian though they many have thought themselves, if only by virtue of there having been no other viable option at the time, lived under the yoke of the Church Fathers; where they never felt quite so comfortable as the Church Fathers told them they should, and so ultimately landed us where we, as people of Anglo-Nordic belief, are today, ie. not under the yoke of the Church Fathers.

Certainly, I don’t doubt that I have my ancestors, some of them quite immediate, who might conceivably have been quite mortified at my rejection of Christianity. But then, my maternal grandfather was a church-goer, not a “holy-roller”, but a man who behaved as though he had an obligation to get out there with the community every Sunday and spend some time thinking about God. He also use to tell me that “the Old Man is cracking his whip again!” when a thunderstorm was rolling in, bought me the first book I ever found on the runes (Tony Willis’ Runic Workbook lol), and seemed interested in my initial writings on Anglo-Nordic belief — “you’ve got some pretty deep thoughts there!” — while he was out here on Vancouver Island visiting just prior to coming down with cancer, et al.

When I call upon my ancestors and make offerings to them, I call upon them all. And much like the living, there might be some who want nothing of it. That is their choice, for them to make. Enjoy sheol, I guess? But on my end, as a person of Anglo-Nordic belief, it is offered to all, in thanks and remembrance of all … be they Anglo-Nordic of any kind or otherwise (eg. Christian, Slavic, Mi’kmaq).

The wheel keeps on rolling. As ever.

The Twinfaced Figure from Thy

Ah yes, the “Thy figure”. Part of a Nordic Bronze Age find in the region of Thy, Denmark.

thyfigure

It was actually quite a thrilling find, from earlier this year (2019), and for a few different reasons. One was its timely arrival, coming as it did on the tail end of research I had been doing into the Divine Twins (Alcis, Hors and Hengist, etc.) and the Nordic Bronze Age. Incidentally, if you have not read “The Rise of Bronze Age Europe”, you know nothing, John Snow. But another reason for the thrill was the fact that the find was quite monumental. Stuff like this isn’t uncovered every day! And here I had a discovery unfolding in real time, right before my very eyes, where I was getting information on it as fast as anyone else not actually participating in the excavation itself! And of course, here on the local level there is the entire back story regarding my initial impression on it and the back-and-forth between myself and a certain prominent Youtuber in the Anglo-Nordic community; who seems like he could be a very interesting and informative chap if he could get over himself and his academic credentials long enough to have a conversation. I refrain from naming names, as he remains my favourite Youtuber among the handful of likely suspects — which I say with the caveat that I’m not at all too keen on the rest of them — but he knows who he is. And we do have mutuals. And of course, when you’ve been a part of the Anglo-Nordic (Heathen) community for as long as I have, ie. 30+ years, you just get tired of the consistent flow of desperate, insecure, and utterly effeminate drama that, collectively, has defined it since I first stepped in.

Yawn.

That said, it’s a funny story; which will no doubt bleed its way in to anything I write on this subject. And which I feel obliged to mention, at least in passing, because, well, as I suppose on immediate reflection, we apparently love our drama?

But on to the Thy figure itself…

Perhaps the first guess to be thrown out there on this find, and certainly the most interesting, was its striking resemblance to the Roman representation of their own native deity, Janus. His worship is believed to reach back to prior to the foundation of the Roman Republic (509 BC), and the earliest depictions (and all later ones) show him as doublefaced. He is believed to be uniquely Roman and — at least on the surface and to those unable to see the theme underlying various expressions/depictions — unknown to the Greeks; though both the Hindus and the Slavs did worship multifaced idols/gods.

In doing some cursory reading on Janus, I was immediately struck by his associations with the arch-way or door and all that implies in terms of liminality and duality, ie. beginnings, endings, cycle of the day and year, ie. passage of the sun, etc. He also apparently had an association with the dancing youths of the cult of Mars known as the Salii, themselves a descendant of the old Proto-Indo-European *koryos (adolescent males in training). As with Mars’ own offspring, the progenitors of Rome, Romulus and Remus, I would suggest that Janus represents an evolution of the “god-concept” embodied in the P.I.E. Divine Twins, who are also associated with youths, thresholds, liminality and duality.

That said, it is highly unlikely that the Roman Janus was at all an influence on the Thy figure, which itself predates not only the Roman Republic, but also Germanic-Roman contact (Negua helms, Cimbrian Wars, 2nd century BC) and the strong influx of Roman material goods that began soon after the time of Julius Caesar (1st century BC) by centuries. As such, it would be more plausible, if equally unlikely, to suggest that the Thy figure influenced the Roman Janus rather than vice verse.

Most likely the similarity is simply a matter of the spontaneous evolution of thought, belief and expression along similar lines, owing to a common Indo-European heritage, rather than the tired old matter of “who got what from whom?”.

Naturally, in considering both the Thy figure and Janus, the mind is drawn to the Old Germanic god, Tuisto, whose name is rooted in the concept of two, and who was mentioned as co-progenitor (alongside Mannus; see Yama and Manu in the Hindu tradition) of the Germanic peoples by Tacitus.

As for my own initial impressions…

Compare the horned helmets of this twinned figure (above) with the Vikso helmets (below). Also from the Nordic Bronze Age. And deposited as a pair.

Bronze_Age_Helmets,_Nationalmuseet_Copenhagen

Also compare with the Grevensvaenge figurine (below). It is also a product of the Nordic Bronze Age and was originally part of a large ensemble that included this figure’s twin; who would have knelt beside his brother in the ensemble.

grevensvaenge1

And also compare with the Fogdarp yoke (below); which, you guessed it, is also from the Nordic Bronze Age. Note also, in comparison to the Vikso helms, they “youthful” eyes, and particularly the “beak” set between the eyes (ie. nasal region) of both.

fogtdarpyoke

These Lads were a big deal over the course of the Nordic Bronze Age. And indeed over the European Bronze Age in general.

They are perhaps best remembered in the Indo-European context as the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, but find parallels throughout the Indo-European world; most notably, outside of Anglo-Nordic belief itself, in Hinduism (Ashvins) and Baltic belief (Ašvieniai, Dieva deli).

That they maintained some degree of pan-Germanic prestige following the collapse of the Nordic Bronze Age (c.500 BC) into the early centuries of the Migration Age (beginning c.300 AD), can be inferred from the dual brother-kings found at the head of a number of tribes in migration, ie. liminality, the most famous of whom are the mytho-historical Hors and Hengist, who are said to have led the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britannia.

One of the cool things about the Fogtdarp Lads — which, like all of these artifacts, I’ve never had the luxury to examine first person and only know through “display” type photographs, and so turned out to be quite the thrilling discovery, relating to some research I was doing at the time — is what you see from a birds eye look at them (below).

fogsdarpbirdseye

 

That is the Nordic Bronze Age “Axe of Heaven” symbol, which you can read more about here, and should keep in mind as very relevant as we progress.

Now it has been argued that, “The Grevensvaenge idols are twins, two separate entities, but the Thy figure is two-faced, so completely different.”, which, along with another criticism that I shall touch on later, represents analytical reductionism at its finest.

The fundamental idea expressed in the relationship of the Divine Twins can be perceived in the Baltic word *jumis*. This is the name that the Baltic peoples gave to their own version of the “horseheaded gables” — called “Hors and Hengist” by their Germanic neighbours in northern Germany — and its companion “runic” symbol. Not to mention one of their native divinities. The word jumis means “two grown together as one”. It is cognate to the Latin gemini — and the aforementioned Yama, twin of Manu — which was itself identified with Castor and Pollux by the Greeks.

And no, I don’t think that it is also cognate to the Old Icelandic Ymir, which, as far as the speakers of Old Icelandic were concerned meant “Noisemaker”, and within the Eddic context no doubt understood as “Bellower”.

The doublefaced Thy figure is an expression of the same notion, the same theme, that is the essence of the Divine Twins, and reflected not only by the twin idols of the Grevensvaenge ensemble, but also in the twin heads (common “body”) of the Fogtdarp yoke, and even centuries later on Gallehus horn B; where utilitarian half loops are found on both of the Lads depicted thereon, and via which a chain or leather string could be run to make a carrying strap, but which also expressed the fundamental unity of the two.

This of course also relates to the two-horsed chariot of the Indo-Europeans.

In Indo-European myth the essential unity of the Lads is perhaps best represented in Greek myth, in which Castor was mortally wounded, and so Zeus gave Pollux the option of sharing half his immortality with his brother; such that the two would spend half the year in Hades with each other, and half in Olympus with each other. This as opposed to Castor spending eternity in Hades, while Pollux would spend eternity in Olympus, ie. apart from each other.

Needless to say perhaps, Pollux chose to share his immortality with his twin brother.

Anyway, the Grevensvaenge figures, the Fogtdarp yoke, the Thy idol, the Gallehus horn twins, all different expressions of the same underlying theme, ie. of the Divine Twins.

Another criticism that came out,as alluded to above, was embodied in the question, “what do horns have to do with horse-gods???” Now, as an honest question, it is a very good question. After all, the association, like goats and thunder — or even poetry and immortality? lol — is not immediately self-evident or at all easy to explain. And yet, as a question meant only to derail, we have this image from a Minoan sarcophagi found on the isle of Crete and dated c.1,400 BC,

hornshorses

And it certainly does beg the question, what DO horns have to do with horses?

That is to say that, whether we appreciate or understand the association ourselves, the association is an observable fact. As such, like goats and thunder, the onus is on us to, first accept, and then, more poignantly, to understand.

Our lack of understanding does not invalidate the evident association.

And so, in answer to the question, “what do horns have to do with horses?” the answer is an obvious, “the Divine Twins. That is what horns have to do with horses.”

Within a couple weeks of the above mentioned criticisms the CT scan of the full find was released. Prior to this we saw the Thy figure itself along with an axe head embedded in the soil.

thyaxehead

But with the CT scan, the question about horns and horse gods was brought to an abrupt end. And the exchange deleted.

CTscanThy

And the CT scan was eventually followed by more pictures. Here’s one,

thyhorses

Hmmm. So what DO horns have to do with horse-gods? Or perhaps more accurately here, what do horses have to do with horned-gods? And axes to boot?

The sacral and hallowing power of the Alcis, the twinned sons of God and divine champions of Man. That is what horses, horns and axes all have to do with each other.

How did I know, prior to the CT scans? Well, how does anyone “get the joke” so to speak? Certainly not by reducing it to its component parts and analyzing them in isolation from one another or the larger context it exists in. In regards to humour, we have a word for that approach.

Humourless.

Suffice it to say that it wasn’t a lucky guess. Nor any presumption of “knowing it all” on my behalf; no matter how much “Wyrd” might have conspired to paint me as omniscient on this matter.

Reckon wisely, my friends! And hey, lets be whole out there!

thyaxehorse

 

 

 

Heathen Hiking and the Wedding of Gerd

It has been a busy and eventful past two years around this southern Van. Island hearth!

To start, after some four years together my girlfriend and I got married in June of 2018. Lacking any Heathen community in the area, we had the J.P. take care of the official stuff at our home, first thing in the morning, before heading over to Caleb Pike Heritage Park and taking our vows, before the gods and our gathered friends and family. Some of these, namely family, could not make it as a result of the distances involved (2000+ kms!), but we nevertheless had an intimate turn of about a dozen or so people; the perfect size for both our venue and allotted budget!

The venue couldn’t have been better; a heritage park with heritage house situated on an old apple orchard, in a rural setting, and just down the road from the southern parking lot of some of our most memorable hikes, along the Gowlland Tod range. The weather was threatening in the distance, but a nice blue patch of sky remained overhead for the duration of the event. We took our vows outside, and the rustic setting was punctuated by a small family of deer that took it upon themselves to attend.

The ceremony itself, which blended the popular expectations of our intimates with the essentials of the elder beliefs, was officiated by our close friend, renowned academic and author, and fellow Anglo-Nordic Heathen, Richard Rudgley.

wedjameyaryn

Within two days we were off to Vancouver for an old school train ride up through the Rocky Mountains to Valemont, British Columbia. As we neared our destination, I decided to take one more look at all the particulars and found that the taxi service we were relying on to get us up to our first cabin, just a few kms outside of Mount Robson Park, but some 35 kms from our drop-off point, had just up and gone out of business! For all of that, the owner of the second cabin we would be staying at, Sandy of Twin Peaks Resort, agreed to come pick us up and give us a ride up to our first cabin; while Kurtis, proprietor of Mount Robson Mountain River Lodge (our first cabin), gave us a ride back down to Valemont when our stay with him had concluded.

And speaking of Mount Robson Mountain River Lodge, this was the view we enjoyed from our private cabin…

mountrobsoncabinview

As per the resort’s name, that is Mount Robson dominating the scene; the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, coming in at 3,954 meters in elevation (above sea-level). And absolutely breath-taking. We could have just sat there on our deck, or lounging in bed if we preferred, and looked at it for the next 3 days. And it would have been worth every penny! Absolutely recommended for anyone ever thinking of heading out that way!

As it was, we had plans. Plans which involved, not admiring Mount Robson from an easy distance, but getting right up into his face, to soak our feet in Berg Lake, which sits at the base of the peak and is fed from the glacier that sits atop it.

And so we set out around 5am to do exactly that the first morning after our arrival. The first leg of our journey carried us to the entrance of the park, some 3 to 4 kms from our cabin, which we reached just after bright Sunne had crested the mountainous horizon and furnishing us with another breath-taking view of all the surrounding peaks.

Again we could have just sat ourselves down at that point and soaked it up all day. And truth be told, there was not a single step along the way — not a SINGLE step — where we were not utterly enthralled by the beauty and majesty of our surroundings. Okay. The second leg that carried us another 3 to 4 kms to the trailhead was what it was, ie. a nice walk amidst the trees, but from there forward we had to keep reminding ourselves that, while we afforded ourselves time to enjoy the hike, we were, ultimately, on the clock and could not lose ourselves in it.

This is is what greeted us soon after getting on to the trail, as we reached Kinney Lake…

kinneylake

As so it continued as we made our way up around Kinney Lake and into the Valley of a Thousands Falls. Now, I didn’t see a thousand. Or even a hundred. Maybe it was the time of year? Or a dry year? Or marketing hyperbole! But if one kept one’s eyes peeled, quite a number like this dotted the valley,

athousandfallsorone

And then it was up, up, up(!) until we at last came to the roaring Emperor Falls, which one is able to get up close and personal with, as close as wisdom will allow, and cool off in the heavy spray of.

emperorfalls

The picture doesn’t do it justice. Nor even the video I have. In its presence, the sense of its power is immense and palpable. Only to be compared with a good, prairie thunderstorm. Naturally, I had to get even closer than this pic indicates, but one would be a fool to underestimate the might of this etin-force.

And so we carried on, in awe, until, at length we at last arrived at Berg Lake, sitting in the shadow of the peak of Mount Robson. It was a hot day, in the upper 20s Celsius, and the last leg of the journey to the lake was rocky, dry, treeless, and anything but shadowy. And the ice-cold spray from Emperor Falls had long since evaporated. I used our coats and sweaters from the morning, along with the hardy bushes that dot the terrain there, to set us up a little shelter from the heat, and despite the rocky, broken terrain, it was shoes and socks off and into the glacial lake (chunks of ice were floating in it). The sheer contrast in temperatures, and the difficulty walking shoe-less, didn’t make an actual swim all that inviting, but feet in, a good soaking of the head and neck, et al. was infinitely refreshing. And possibly even necessary to avoid heat stroke.

berglake

Mount Robson peak is just off camera to the right in the above picture. I’m looking out across the lake at the glacier as it creeps, imperceptibly  down the side of the mountain and into the lake.

Incidentally, in answer to the famous meme, yes, I do still see frost giants around.

Here we have a pic of Mount Robson from the shore of Berg Lake:

mountrobsonpeak

One of the rules that we made on our hike up was “no looking back”, with the logic being to make good time on the one hand, and to save some sights for the hike back down on the other. Needless to say, it was regularly broken. And likewise, it really didn’t matter with vistas like this spread out before us:

homeonberglaketrail

We finally made it back to our cabin … sometime between 7 and 8 pm that evening; having covered a distance of 47.2 kms, with an elevation gain of some 1,384 meters, the better bulk of which took place over 2 to 3 kms as you leave the Valley of a Thousand Falls and start moving toward Emperor Falls and, further on,  Berg Lake.

We were exhausted to say the least. “Smiling and fulfilled” exhausted!

Down points of the hike? Virtually none. Other than that the trail is very tame and sees a fair amount of tourist traffic in high season. It is not as “backwoods” as one might imagine; though I’d still much prefer to get lost in the backwoods of the island than in the middle of hundreds of miles of unbounded Canadian wilderness. Which, if you’re not a moron, won’t happen here. While we saw some interesting birds, and a (not at all unfamiliar) sign that warned of a cougar in the area, our BIG wildlife sighting of the hike was a lone marmot.

Anyway, my wife hit the hay almost immediately after walking through the door, while I decided I was going to get a look at the stars once the daylight had vanished. Having forgotten what time of year it was, and how far north we were, it was around 1am before I finally realized that the daylight was not going to disappear from the horizon and I crawled into bed. In fact, as I learned, we would get solid night, but not until about 3am.

The next couple of days were spent lounging, enjoying the view, small walks up the river, dinner with our hosts, Kurtis and Claudia, and their other guests, and even a few cracks of thunder and flashes of lighting… though don’t let the locals know what a thrill you get from them, ie. forest fires, underscoring a point that I have always emphasized about Thunor’s popular designation as “god of thunder” and that none of our ancestors ever prayed for thunder and lightning or violent weather. Not that I don’t get it. You have no idea! But the point remains.

And then it was down to Twin Peaks Resort, a very nice cabin, with a very nice view in its own right, and the fine hospitality of our hosts, Sandy and Donna. Sandy (Alex) was a bit of a character — of the pop-to-the-chops variety the Havamal speaks of and we guys all know very well from our common interactions with each other, ie. male “flirtation/teasing” — but all-in-all a friendly, good natured man, and an impeccable host. Beyond helping us out to our first cabin, he and Donna also gave us a lift from town or to town on a couple of occasions, and dropped us off dark and early at the bus station the morning of our departure.

The second challenge of the honeymoon was to hike to the summit of Mount Terry Fox; made even more of a challenge, not only by the accumulation of fatigue, but also by the fact that the region’s only taxi service, now defunct as mentioned above, added upwards of 15 to 20 kms, along the highway, to the hike. But we decided to tackle it anyway, as it wasn’t like we could just come back next weekend. As it worked out however, the fear of heights I so rudely discovered I had a few years back, ie. the Goldstream Trestle, kicked in. Now, don’t get me wrong… Sandy. I have been back to the Goldstream Trestle (internet search it!) on a couple of occasions already, to face it and face it down. And I have hiked some fairly precarious trails and “trails” around the island here, which might not have presented a longer drop, but which would mess a person up all the same, with help every bit as many hours away. I am not easily deterred. And particularly here, realizing the potentially unique opportunity that was before me. And I hold a grudge against my fears. And I saw some of the pictures of people who had made it to the top, eg. “old people”.  As it was, we were about 3/4s of the way up the switchbacks — very  steep stuff here — before I noticed that I had begun to hyperventilate and my nerve at last broke. My wife, who skips and dances across the aforementioned Goldstream Trestle, perhaps seeking to make me feel better, said that, while she has no phobia regarding heights, was herself very apprehensive of the path and the incline. Very narrow path, Very steep slope. Fairly moist earth, not entirely ungiven to give way beneath one’s step, with a fall resulting in a fast plunge of maybe 50′ tops before one’s descent would have been stopped dead by a tree. With a lot more ground to cover if it was not. And so, as they say, discretion was acknowledged as the better part of valour, all things considered, and we turned back.

Ouch.

The memory of it still hurts. Especially having looked at our hike tracker and seen how close we were to (potentially) more tolerable terrain. But also, providing (further) incentive to one day return!

We filled the remainder of our honeymoon with walks to town and back, a couple of smaller hikes (the pics of which are on my wife’s laptop at the moment), and really, just some well earned rest and relaxation, doing the things newlyweds do on their honeymoon.

All-in-all it was an unforgettable experience. The perfect honeymoon. No matter the taste of humble pie, which any man who has ever put himself out there has to taste on the odd occasion, if he is any kind of man at all.

From there it was on a greyhound bus and back home to the island and the radiant sea!

We’ve been on a few different hikes since that time of course, mostly covering familiar territory, but also out to Botany Beach and Avatar Grove during a vacation in Port Renfrew, on Van Island’s (south) west coast, but we began to ease off on these after we learned that my wife was pregnant. And, on Dec.9th of this year, we welcomed our daughter into the world!

alfwinn She weighed in at 8 lbs, 9 oz. At least a pound more than most of us expected. On the 18th of December she was placed in my hands, sprinkled with water and named Aelfwynn Victoria-Marie. The middle names are a combination of the names of my maternal grandmother (Victoria) — not to mention Alfie’s city of birth, and the queen it was named after! — and my wife’s paternal grandmother (Marie), while Aelfwynn is of course Old English, in-keeping with my son’s name (Eldred), meaning “elf-joy”, and also being the name of the daughter of Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, and niece of King Alfred the Great. And here, the picture to the right says it all! Aelfwynn is aelfscinu, radiating with the beauty and joy/friendliness of the elves!

So, it looks like, for the next few years anyway, hiking in general, and “adventurous hikes” in specific, are going to be anywhere from nonexistent to few and far between. That said, we will be building her up for a love of the outdoors. And I also have enough hikes as yet undealt with here to justify another “Heathen Hiking” entry or two, but for the time being, they are on the back-burner. I have however taken to doing some genealogy, which has furnished me with an interesting story or two regarding my early “British North America” (paternal) ancestors, and a lot of historical background concerning Upper Canada and Hasting County, including some of the superstitions held by the English, Scots, Germans and Irish that populated the new province in the late 18th and early 19th century. Ultimately, it’s the kind of thing that anyone outside of my family, or at least outside of North America, might not be all that keen on, but which I’ll probably throw up all the same. If however you are a Canadian, a real Canadian, ie. First and/or Founding Nations, or at least aspire to be — you can do it!!! — this is something you would be wise, and enriched, even obliged, to learn something about… be it from me, or the stories of our ancestors, and anyone but the CBC and its less than wholesome “political narrative” ilk.

Be whole!

 

Yuletide and Tradition

The Christmas Tree…

There is no evidence that the preChristian Anglo-Nordic peoples ever chopped down evergreen trees, brought them indoors, and decorated them as part of a Yuletide tradition.

Of course, worship in holy groves goes back to some of the earliest mentions of Germanic peoples in the historical record. As time rolled forward and the Germanic people began to figure more prominently in the Judeo-Hellenic literary tradition, finer details began to emerge of specific trees that, even in a sacred grove of trees, stood out as exceptionally sacred such as the Thuringian Donar’s Oak or the great ash at Uppsala in Sweden. Such trees as this are reflected in later English beliefs as those surrounding the “Apple Tree Man”, ie. one tree embodying the spirit of an orchard.

In the Old English poem “Dream of the Rood”, the crucifix assumes center stage and acts as the voice of the poem, tracing its own origins back to the tree felled in its Irminsul-like creation and constantly reminding the audience of its tree-nature.

We find the World Tree in a similar position in the Eddas, acting as the axis and measuring stick of all Creation; at the base/in the sight of which (ie. in consideration/observation of) the Divine Assembly is held and doom (judgement, law) is set.

The tree has long stood as a powerful symbol within the Anglo-Nordic psyche. At its most profound, it stood as a symbol of truth — a word that stems from the same Proto-Indo-European root as the word tree — and the holistic nature of truth. Hence, such Old Norse by-names as “Measuring Wood” and “Memory Rood”.

Another of the Tree’s Eddic by-names was “the Shelterer” and it is within the tree (or woods) called “Memory Hoard” that the last people are sheltered through the darkness and uncertainty of Ragnarok and its aftermath, to emerge into the dawning of a new age.

This last bit is exceptionally poignant in regards to the base level of experience of the winter solstice in northern climes where the long night must be endured — indeed where it must be *combated* with merriment and joy — and the return of the sun is cause for much hope and celebration.

So, while there really is no telling if our preChristian ancestors chopped down trees, brought them indoors, and decorated them in observance of the Yuletide, this is less a matter of an absence of evidence, and more one of an absence of need, in which sacred trees stood where they stood, ie. outdoors, worship was largely public and blended with highly social out of doors festivities, where Yule trees and Yule greenery naturally abounded.

There was simply no need to bring such things in-doors of the private household and relegate them to a mere household cult. At least not while such customs were still supported or at least tolerated by the king and/or the national assembly.

It should thus come as no surprise that the relatively modern tradition of the Christmas Tree — more-or-less begun by Martin Luther ironically enough in the 16th century — evolved naturally enough out of the fertile soil of the Germanic “folk-soul”, albeit it under the pressures of its environment.

Indeed, over the past 200 to 300 years the Yuletide has been experiencing a great renaissance in the wake of its diminution in status under Catholicism, where it stood secondary to the Epiphany, and its outlawing among the Puritans in England, and even more poignantly, in the U.S.A.; the latter of which did not even commonly observe Christmas well into the 18th century, but which, drawing intimately on the spirit of the Anglo-Nordic peoples and the ever-evolving tree of our indigenous culture, went on to produce some of the most influential modern lore surrounding the season.

The sacred tree was a gift of our forefathers to their Christianized descendants. And the Yuletree is the gift of those Christianized ancestors to us.

Hail the Glory-Twig!

Musings on Tiw and the Skyfather

In Sanskrit we have Dyauspitar, in Latin Jupiter (Iupiter), and in Greek Zeus Pater. These names literally translate as “Skyfather” (dyaus = sky, pitar = father).

The piter element does not appear in relation to the Gothic Tius, the Old English Tiw/Tiu/Tig, the Old High German Ziu/Zio, or the Old Norse Tyr. Nor does it appear in relation to the Baltic Deivas.

While the Greeks often used the name Zeus apart from the piter element, when the name Dyaus appears alone in Sanskrit it is often taken to reference the material heavens/sky rather than the divine being. Similarly, while Zeus stood alone as a deific name, he was not sharply identified with the material sky — which was more sharply identified with his grandfather Uranus, the Titan’s sibling Hyperion, and their own father, Aether — but rather as the “King of Heaven” and those things that reside in it (gods, heroes); and as such, figuratively speaking, as “the Father of the Olympians”, who were in fact his brothers and sisters. Indeed, contrary to his name, the mythic portrayal of Zeus, his deeds and his attributes correspond much more closely to those of Indra — as well as Parjanya, Perun, etc. — including in his ancient associations with the “thunderous bull” (and the labrys), than they do to Dyauspitar, this latter of whom enjoyed only a slight and perhaps even inferred association with the Vedic “red bull whose bellowing is the thunder”, and who himself corresponds more closely to the Greek Uranus, and perhaps the Baltic Deivas.

In the Germanic context, Zeus most closely resembles, not his (near) namesake, Tiw, but rather Thunor (Old Norse – Thor, Old High German – Donar; no known Gothic); who was indeed ultimately (but not initially, ie. Tacitus) identified with the Roman Jupiter and whose image stood between and above that of both Ingui and Woden in the great Viking Age temple at Uppsala in Ingvaeonic Sweden.

Given the weak association of the Baltic Deivas and the Sanskrit Dyauspitar with “thunder”, with storm and weather, and given the evidence of the existence of a P.I.E. “Weather-God” as evidenced in Parjanya, Perun, etc., we might assume that “meteorological phenomenon” were never part of the Skyfather’s original portfolio to (ahem) “begin with”. We might assume that he was more associated with the “dome of heaven” or “upper-heaven”, and its related features, such as the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars and constellations, as a thing distinct from “storm” or “wind”.

Alternately, it might be that all things above the earth and so in the heavens were once the province of the P.I.E. Skyfather, but as man began to name his world, and consequently to refine his understanding of it, that a distinction between “sky-god” and “weather-god” emerged (just prior to the event horizon of our proverbial measuring stick as found in myth and language). Of course, while perhaps reasonable sounding, it is incredibly reaching considering that the P.I.E. Skyfather was already “fading into the background” in our oldest direct attestations, ie. the RgVeda.

Either way we find ourselves with the parallel notions…

That Indra was born from dyaus (the sky).

That Zeus was the grandson of Uranus (“Father Heaven”)

As well as the vague Baltic notions of Dievas as the supreme Godhead and dome of the sky, and Perkons as the visible embodiment of his will.

And we are left with a “point of resistance” regarding the Greek beliefs, where the name that we would expect to be applied to the Skyfather (ie. Zeus) is instead applied to the “Weather-God”. And the Almighty God, which is to say Hercules within the Graeco-Roman context — initially deemed the equivalent of Thunor by Tacitus — is left once removed from an association with weather.

Looking at the eldest sources for Germanic belief, and taking the Roman equations at conventional value, ie. Mars = Tiw, etc. we run into another “point of friction” where the root element of the P.I.E. Skyfather’s name is being applied to a battle-god; who also presides over exceptional punishments (and so exceptional crimes, eg. sacrilege) as carried out by the “tribal state”, eg. flogging, imprisonment, execution (Tacitus), while a Frisii inscription left at Hadrian’s Wall hails a “Mars Thingsus” or “Battle-God of the Legal Assembly”.

Nevertheless, in the 8th or 9th century Old English Rune Poem, the stanza that is associated with the rune otherwise named for Tiw associates him with glory — that is tir the word substituted for his name in the O.E.R.P. — as well as guidance, and the stars in the night sky. While the 10th century runic mnemonic known as the Abecedarium Nordmannicum states “Tiu, Birch, and Man in the middle” which is an obvious cosmological reference (ie. heaven, earth, man in the middle).

Most curiously, in light of all the above, we have the Viking Age poem Hymskvidha, in which we find Tiw and Thunor (a curious duo) teaming up in a journey out to the hall of the etin (titan, nature spirit) Hymir in order to win his massive cauldron; a tale which seems forced together with that of the primal tale of the Thunderer’s struggle with the World Serpent. In any event, contrary to Snorri’s assertion regarding Tiw’s ancestry in the Prose Edda, the more reliable poetry names Hymir as Tiw’s father; which is of course no more “problematic” than the titan Cronos being considered the father of Zeus or Audhumbla the mother of Buri. The name Hymir would seem to go back to a root that means “twilight, dusk“, while his hall is said to stand at “heaven’s edge“, ie. the horizon, and he is noted for his kingly herd of cattle, foremost among which was a great ox (aka. bull) named “Heavenbellower“; this last of which is a metaphor applied to Dyaus (RgVeda Book 5, Hymn 58), Parjanya (RgVeda, Book 5, Hymn 83), and Indra (RgVeda, Book 6, Hymn 44) .

And so, contrary to the oft stated assertion that Tiw, despite his name, has no sky associations, there you have it; sky associations. And even a weak association with thunder for that matter.

However, this does nothing to explain the “point of friction” caused by Tiw’s association with warfare; or at least with Mars who, as we would be wise to remember, nevertheless did have associations beyond warfare. Associations that were equally if not more important to his high status among the Romans than his association with warfare alone. Still, outside of Zeus and Jupiter, the Skyfather has no particular association with warfare within the broader Indo-European context.

The notion of the sky-god being associated with the Thing is on the other hand easily perceived within a Germanic context. The Thing was not just a legal assembly after all, but also a general community assembly in which all manner of public debate and discussion might take place. One of the many roles of the Thing was to set the calendar for the year, and indeed, the word thing is believed to stem from a root that refers to “a stretch of time“; considered to relate to the intervals between meetings of the Thing, which was judged by the new and full moons according to Tacitus. In the Eddic poem Voluspa we read of how the sun, moon, and the stars wandered aimlessly through the heavens until “the gods gathered at council” and brought order to their passage. And so order to time.

As a god of the Thing, whose name and attributes identify him with the heavens (and the general notion of tiv or div-inity, and so “the gods gathered at council”), we see a likeness to the Greek Hyperion, who is remembered as the father of Helios (sun), Selene (moon), and Eos (dawn; cognate to Easter, Ausrine, etc.), of whom Diodorus Siculus wrote (1st century BC),

Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by these bodies, and to make these facts known to others; and that for this reason he was called the father of these bodies, since he had begotten, so to speak, the speculation about them and their nature.

The relation between the Thing and warfare is also quite evident, and on a number of levels. Firstly, it was the proven men (Kershaw’s *teuta), the adult warriors, that made up the Thing. And it was at the Thing that adolescent males were recognized as *teuta via the declaration and the awarding of spear and shield; which Tacitus states was the equivalent to the awarding of the toga among the tribes of Germania, which no man came to the assembly without, ie. “they sit down armed”, and which they used to show their support for issues there discussed. Likewise, declarations of war and the mustering of armies were associated with the Thing. And of course, the Thing was the arena for disputes among community members, there to be sorted in lieu of “the primal law” of violent recourse. Indeed, under specific circumstances, even men insistent upon violent recourse were given a more evolved recourse at Thing via the custom of “trial by combat”.

That a god associated with, according to conventional understanding, judging the outcome of war, might also be looked to by the warriors to judge equally dire matters within the context of the Thing requires no great leap in logic. Likewise, that such a god might be centered out as being “no peace-maker” or “incapable of settling disputes” is clearly born out in the short-term, real time functioning of the Thing as most clearly detailed in the Icelandic sagas, ie. among the very people who composed the Eddic references to his nature as being “no peace-maker”. As in war, so in law, where the loser is rarely happy, no matter his will (or those of his friends or family) to abide, which of course was, quite simply, not always the case.

Indeed, formal law takes up where the social fabric of thew has broken down. If thew hadn’t broken down, the situation would get sorted, on a social level, ie. the level of thew, and the case would never be taken to court to begin with. And law, in any day and age, is always a poor substitute for thew. To paraphrase Tacitus, “where good habits exist, strong laws are unnecessary“. A law, the reliance on an outside source to resolve conflict, is the gift “that ever looks for a gain“, and if given the chance tends to feed on thew to grow itself. And “its maw would open even wider still, if there were but more room between heaven and earth“.

That said, we would be simplistic in our thinking about the Thing, as with warfare, to fail to note the various distinctions that exist within its general category, and so to assign exclusive association of it to any one god. As we still see in modern law, the Thing was also an institute that contained lawyers, juries, judges and mediators; with the subtle distinction between judge and mediator being that the (Tiwic) judge doesn’t really care about either party, but rather about their actions in direct relation to the letter of the law, whereas the (Fositic) mediator is more inclined to seek social reconciliation, to reweave thew between the parties rather than judging winner and loser between them.

And Tiw “is the onehanded among the AEsir“, afterall.

Indeed, if one prays to Tiw in relation to legal issues, they better be in the right, technically so, ie. formally correct according to the customs of the court and the letter of the law, with all of their t’s crossed, their i’s dotted, if they are at all hoping for success. Which means one should probably pray to him for such attention to detail rather than for the legal victory itself. And even then, depending on the situation, you should be prepared to pay the wergild no matter the “larger issue”; even as Tiw paid the stipulated fine to the Wulf… and yet appears to be in nowise reconciled with Loki, Father of the Wulf, over the matter thereafter; for all that Loki cannot rebuke him on the point of the binding of the Wulf itself. “I lost my hand, Hrothvitnir thou!”, so eat it bog-scum! How does it taste? Loki – “a lot like the fact that I f–ked your wife must taste to you?”

Legally reconciled. But not socially.

Tiw is most precisely associated with legal judgement within the context of the Thing. And even more precisely with the judgement of exceptional crimes, crimes that undermine the common weal, and equally with exceptional punishments carried out by the “tribal state” in the name of the common weal; with such punishments having a taboo dimension, see the above comments on law and thew, that could potentially rank them as equally exceptional, in their ability to undermine the common trust, as the very crimes they were aimed at punishing. And so such judgements were handed out, as Tacitus relates, not on the command of the warrior-king, but only by the priest-king, and even then only in accordance with the will of “the god of the warrior ethos“.

So, what does warfare have to do with the sky? Well, Tiw is what warfare has to do with the sky. Our own inability to understand the association is entirely irrelevant to the observed fact of the association. But here it would be prudent to look at both Zeus and Jupiter for whatever light they might be able to shed on the matter.

In Hesiod’s work, Zeus is said to have been raised in Crete by an all-nourishing she-goat — reflective of both the primal cow Audhumbla, and even the goats of Thunor — where he was then surrounded by the dancing, stomping, and shouting of the Kouretes, a band of wild youths whose name stems from the P.I.E. root *koryos (see Kershaw) and indicates the initiatory wolf-bands that guided adolescent males into adulthood. While reflections of this cult can be found throughout the Indo-European world, the Germanic no exception, among the Romans the dancing youths were called the Salii and closely associated with the worship of Mars.

Among Zeus’ many epithets we find “Zeus Areius” (Warlike Zeus), but more interestingly Zeus Lykaios (Wolf Zeus), which again links him to the *koryos and the initiatory cult of adolescent males. His role in the cult’s associated myth however is peculiar, and involves Zeus striking down the “House of Lycaon” as a result of human flesh being introduced into a sacral feast, and a curse of lycanthropy, ie “werewolfism”. This is akin to the more typical Greek belief of the relationship between Zeus and Ares as expressed in Zeus’ words towards him in the Illiad,

To me you are the most hateful of all gods who hold Olympus.
Forever quarrelling is dear to your heart, wars and battles.

Jupiter’s connections to warfare are better represented, and reveal little of the Greek contempt for warfare. Beyond his association with the creation of the shields born by Mars’ Salii, this can be found in the history of such dedications to him as Jupiter Victor, Jupiter Invictus, Jupiter Stator, and most interestingly Jupiter Feretrius, where he was associated with Mars in the ritual of spolia opima and the offering of “the spoils of war”; which itself is a more limited form of the custom of mass disposal of the spoils of war, mentioned by Tacitus as associated with both the Germanic Mars (Tiw) and the Germanic Mercury (Woden), and represented in the historical record as early as the Hjortspring find (c.350 BC).

The spolia opima hearkened to the basic Indo-European battle aesthetic of a single combat fought between peers, and the claiming of the defeated’s wargear as tokens of the victor’s personal honour and glory.

As the Old English Rune Poem states, “Tir bith tacna sum“.

Among the Germanic peoples, the single combat was not simply the preferred mode of combat among the *teuta (proven men of the tribe), — which, at least prior to Caesar’s Gallic War, extended its influence into mass combat situations — but was also used by Tacitus’ Germans to divine the outcome of a potential war. And also as an alternative to war as we see in Saxo’s tale of King Offa of the Anglii and his duel against the Myging champions, or in that told by Gregory of Tours of an impending battle between the migrating Alemanni and Vandals, where the Alemanni-King said,

How long shall we allow war to make shambles of entire peoples? I beg of you; do not let the armies of both peoples perish. Instead, let two men meet on the battlefield with their war-gear and let each fight on behalf of his folk. Let that side whose champion wins take possession of the territory without contest.

The spolia opima. Very intriguing. Potentially significant to the topic at hand. But presently just distracting; to be dealt with further “at some future point”.

Maybe.

Now, as the Graeco-Roman sources show, Zeus and Jupiter did have an association with warfare. Relatively strong in regards to Jupiter, and relatively weak in regards to Zeus, but nevertheless visible.

Warfare and glory it would seem can be included in a cluster of ideas, along with heaven and weather, law and order, strength and power, that were closely associated in the Indo-European mind; manifest in different deities, in varying portions, in different times and places, and among the many different cultures and tribes that make up the Indo-European peoples.

Within Tiw, taking the broad Germanic body of lore in, irrespective of time or place, we see clear associations with heaven, warfare and glory, and law and order.

Of particular interest in regards to Tiw is Zeus Lykaios, as the one Eddic myth that we have of Tiw outside of the Hymskidha — and outside of Thunor and Woden, none of the gods have much more space devoted to them in the Eddas, and many don’t even have that much — involves him tending to Loki’s offspring, the Fenriswulf, and ultimately being the pivotal figure in the binding of the Wulf. Which, as with Zeus Lykaios, reveals an association with the adolescent males (*koryos) in training to become men (*teuta), for whom the wolf/dog is universally found as the “totem spirit” throughout the Indo-European world. The ambiguity found in Zeus’ relationship to the *koryos is also apparent within the context of Germanic culture, and specifically in the contrasting perceptions of the wolf within a specifically martial, indeed raiding context, in which wolfish traits are praise worthy and encouraged, and a specifically socio-legal context, in which the wolf was associated with the (second) worst kinds of offenders and offenses, and their most taboo form of punishment, execution, and most specifically death by hanging, which was generally performed on what the Anglo-Saxons referred to as “the wolfheadstree”.

A similar dichotomy can be found in the training of adolescent males among the Spartans.

The myth of Tiw and Fenriswulf can be dated as early as c.500 AD Sweden to a bracteate that depicts a long haired man, holding what appears to be a scale in one hand, while his other sits in the mouth of a wolf. In my opinion, the impetus for the evolution of this peculiar myth, which leaves us with a peculiarly one-handed (ahem) “Skyfather”, dates all the way back to the collapse of the affluent, clockwork Nordic Bronze Age (c.500 BC) and the first appearance of the equally peculiar custom of the mass disposal of the spoils of war (into lakes, bogs; c.350 BC); which, reminiscent of the spolia opima, was a rare custom that, as such, was only observed under very specific conditions; that, like the Fenriswulf myth, likely involved action that might otherwise be immediately self-denounced as dishonourable, if not for the fact that the very survival, not merely of the warrior, or warband, or fyrd — for whom killing and getting killed is both an honour and duty — but rather the survival of the tribe itself became a very real and imminent concern. After all, one’s honour and glory are of little value if the community (bestower, container, and carrier of personal honour and “the name undying”) it existed within ceases to exist.

In such situations, the spoils of war, the very tokens of personal honour and glory, the pursuit of which was the warriors main preoccupation, where thus cast into the bog of shame (where the tribes of Germania sunk the worst kinds of capital offenders), even as Tiw paid the Wulf the stipulated fine for breach of contract, and the warriors were “forced” to be satisfied with the continued existence of their people. And all that implies in terms of personal honour.

Whatever the case, this custom was associated not only with the Germanic Mars (Tiw), but also with the Germanic Mercury (Woden), the latter of whom has very strong associations with hanging and wolves and the *koryos.

From here, as we begin to move from a pan-Germanic context, irrespective of time, and into the lore born and reflective of the (Norse-Icelandic) Scandinavian Viking Age, where we run into more “points of friction” regarding Tiw, Woden and Thunor.

These points of friction are, that in the comparatively well represented North Germanic lore,

Woden appears as the predominant god of warfare, in myth, in history, in legend, while Tiw is barely given a nod in that capacity, and even then, it is a nod that is largely confined to myth. This can in fact be gleaned in the references to a Germanic Mars from the Migration Age forward, where such mention is surrounded by contextual details (eg. human sacrifice, kingship) that seem to betoken, not Tiw, but Woden.

Similarly, it was the image of Thunor that stood in the place of assembly in Viking Age Sweden (Adam of Bremen, History of the Bishops of Hamburg), while over in Iceland it was in the name of Thunor that grievous offenders were ritually executed in a legal context (Eyrbyggja saga).

While it is clear that the Viking Age Scandinavians and their descendants did not simply forget Tiw’s association with warfare, it is equally apparent that neither did they forget his association with the Thing; which is implicit in the very accusation Loki levels at him in terms of bringing peace between men. It is after all, entirely pointless to mock someone, say a biologist, for not excelling in some field that they are not associated with or otherwise KNOWN for, such as astrophysics for instance. And if this only referenced Tiw’s association with warfare the insult falls equally flat.

The insult (along with the entire aspect of legal compensation in the exchange) can only be taken as such, can only have bite, or even be understood, if Tiw did have legal associations and the audience of the poem was aware of those associations; which also speaks towards the fundamental purpose of the Thing over the long term, ie. to maintain the wholeness of the community.

The point being, that there does not appear to be any reason to believe that the Romans, or the Romanized Frisii mercenaries at Hadrian’s Wall — not to be mistaken for King Radbod’s Fosite-worshipping Frisians — were at all wrong in their estimations; even if they were were only rough generalizations, such as are common to comparative studies in which the associations tend to weaken on a point-for-point examination.

And so, we must assume that Woden and Thunor came to supersede Tiw in the respective fields of warfare and law; whether such occurred because one was better at the job than he was, or simply because beliefs about Tiw and his nature had grown beyond such functions, leaving the position vacant, and someone needed to fill them.

With out strong martial or legal associations (that we are aware of), Tiw is thus left with only his “sky” associations.

But even here we run into some difficulties, perhaps best gleaned from language, where the words for the “daylit sky” and the “Skyfather” are either synonymous or closely related, as we see in the Sanskrit and Latin. In the Germanic tongues however, the word *Day* springs from an entirely unrelated root, and is even personified in the Eddas (and possibly the O.E.R.P.).

Indeed, when we take a closer look at Tiw’s name, we see that it stems less from the Dyaus root, to use the Sanskrit, and more from the closely related deva root, and does not yield “sky” precisely, but rather the closely related notion of “god”, or more accurately, on its own terms, “paragon, shining example, glory”.

This certainly matches the word used to substitute his name in the O.E.R.P. (tir = glory). It also matches the most famous of his by-names, the Leavings of the Wolf; the wolf being a metaphor for the ravenous grave, which consumes all, except a man’s good name, a man’s “glory”. It also matches what Snorri stated regarding men of particular courage and wisdom, that such are called tyr-bold and tyr-wise respectively, in honour of the god, which also fits the general application of his name to gods, priests, and heroes (tivar, diar).

This is likely the root of of the reference to him in the Old Icelandic Rune Poem as, “Ruler of the Temple”.

It is also significant that the O.E.R.P. associated Tiw with the sky at night, albeit with the radiance of the night sky, ie. the stars, in specific — reminding one of the Greek association of gods and heroes with the planets and constellations — which fits comfortably with the notion that the name of his father, Hymir, means “twilight, dusk”.

In regards to the above, one might also note the presence of his rune on Anglo-Saxon cremation urns, where it appears more often than any symbol other than the swastika.

And so in Tiw, we do not see so much of a “Skyfather” (to whatever extent that can be found in any of the attested Indo-European pantheons), but rather a Gloryfather.

It is tempting to associate Tiw with the Eddic figure Delling (Shining), said in passing to be “of the race of the AEsir“, who coupled with the swarthy etinwife Night (Nott) to produce Day (Daeg).

In the Old English Rune Poem, Day falls within the aett (family of eight runes) of Tir, and in the stanza associated with his rune Day is said to be “sent by the Drighten” (Leader of the Warband, King, God) and to be the “Metod’s light” (Measurer, Judge, God).

The possible association of Tiw with the kingly and deific title, Drighten, at least prior to the Viking Age, perhaps even prior to the Migration Age, really needs no explanation. Though with the caveat that, much like Mars, the title most likely came to be associated with Woden, both as war-god and predominant god of kingship from the Migration Age forward, but which ultimately hearkens back to the dual rulership of a warrior-king (whose position was based on merit, and ensured by continuing proofs of merit) and a priest-king (or frea/frey), who required a sacral bloodline to even be considered for the position and held the position for life. The Wodenic kingship combined aspects of both of these offices, as something more encompassing than either the office of the drighten or that of the frea, without entirely doing away with the offices of high-priest or warlord.

It is also tempting to associate him with the deific title Metod, foremost in his capacity as judge of war and capital offense, but also in the general nature of the Thing, which was a veritable trove of various measurements … of various sorts of crimes and their legal value, of various sorts of injuries up to and including death, of the worth of various men, of the passage of the months and year.

In Saxo’s Gesta Danorum, he tells of a god named Mitodhinn who once governed the heavens, and assigned to each of the Tivar their own individual drink offering. As we might expect of a Gloryfather.

Such a title also sheds light on the relationship between the Thing of the Tivar in Upper-Heaven, the laws layin by the Great Mothers, and their relation to Wyrd, the Spring of Wyrd, and the World Tree.

There is a fine line between the collective judgement of the Tivar at Thing and the workings of Wyrd, owed mostly to the fact that, contrary to popular heathen thought, the Tivar mastered Wyrd… which is best likened, in sense, to a sailor mastering the ocean rather than anything too rigid and absolute. The un-mastered Wyrd, and the fundamental nature of Wyrd, can be gleaned in the activity in and around Hvergelmir.

Virtue and the Guiding Principle

“Tir (Glory, Tiw) is a profound token, it holds true with the noble,
it is ever on course, over the mists of Night,
it never switches.” — the Old English Rune Poem

The GUIDING PRINCIPLE of a system of morals…

We often get lost in the details of morality, of specific virtues, the 10 Commandments for example, or the Nine Noble Virtues, eg. honesty, courage, hospitality, love for all, etc., and fixate on them to the exclusion of the *guiding principle* of ethical systems.

This is in part due to the guiding principle of most post-Conversion ethical systems; which is *obedience* to the author/authority, be it a pretense to God, a prophet, the Church, or the secular State.

Contravene the stated virtue, and you are “a criminal”. You are “evil”. Because, in keeping with their guiding principle, disobedience to authority = bad in those ethical systems.

And of course, under such systems, everyone is inevitably guilty. Mankind is fallen. Some just hide or otherwise rationalize or justify it better than others.

The guiding principle for Anglo-Nordic belief, and most other ethno-cultural or heathen/pagan belief systems however, is the maintenance of the health and wholeness, ie. the holiness, of “the tribe”; in the pursuit of which the “toolbox of values” contains the full range of potential, ingenuity and resourcefulness as found in human nature. And some of these might usually be considered deplorable, and justifiably so, when divorced from the guiding principle and outside of the appropriate circumstances.

Take lying for example. Germanic society was a very forthright culture, in which honesty meant the difference, legally speaking, between a run-of-the-mill offense an individual could wash their hands of with payment of fine, and a serious offense to the entire community, for which the offender would be manhandled by the powers-that-be in a manner that might otherwise breed division between folk and state. eg. imprisonment, flogging, execution.

Hence why the pronouncements of such penalties was taboo and allowed to the priest-king alone; who himself had to consult the will of the Tivar via the casting of lots.

Nevertheless, we have plenty of examples in the Norse-Icelandic mythology of even the most solid and forthright of the gods engaging in or otherwise acting as facilitators of acts of deceit.

“How can this be? Hypocrites!”, one might cry.

Indeed, many have cried exactly that regarding, most poignantly, Tiw (Tyr) and his role in the binding of the Fenwulf. Of course, they are estimating the act within the context of a foreign paradigm, in which the guiding principle is one of obedience. Hence why, within the native paradigm, Tiw so easily silences Loki on the matter in the Lokasenna, and Loki is left fumbling for some other matter with which to shame the God.

Even Loki understood what many of his would-be Heathen fans in the modern world don’t; Namely, the guiding principle of Anglo-Nordic belief, ie. the maintenance of the health and wholiness of the tribe.

To illustrate this in more homely terms; let us say that you, a parent with young children, heard of lunatics moving through your neighbourhood kicking in doors and kidnapping or murdering children. So, you’ve hidden your children safely away somewhere in your home. Hopefully you’ve also armed yourself and set up “inconveniences” for unwanted interlopers. But now the lunatics kick in your door, and demand to know where your children are. Do you tell them? Because lying is a sin? And that would be wrong? Do you refrain from killing them? Because man-killing is a sin? And that would be wrong? And if you imagine that such things would be wrong in those circumstances, do you honestly imagine that you are a good human being? A good parent? As you stand, glowing with self-righteousness, with your children dead at your feet, or spirited away into a life of suffering, abuse and misery? And you thinking, “well, at least I am still good with God/Church/State!”

Here we see how important the *guiding principle* is in determining good from evil, moral from immoral, wisdom from obedience, integrity from hypocrisy. How important in the application of the capabilities of our humanity.

And the guiding principle applies to one’s actions be they within the tribe or in relation to those outside of the tribe, ie. how shall my actions effect the well-being of my tribe?

Finally, lest we forget how the tale of the Fenwulf’s binding ends,

Then all the gods rejoiced, except Týr: he paid with his hand.”

Indigenous Attitudes: Magic and Germanic Belief

The “Lex Salica” or “Salic Law” represents one of the earliest recorded collections of Germanic customary law. In this case the Law Code reflected the laws of the Salian Franks and their Merovingian aethelings on the eve of Clovis’ conversion to Catholicism and some 50 years after their settlement in the northern region (Neustria) of the former Roman province of Gaul.

Among it’s various offenses we find those dealing with the practice of magic and harm done by magic, such as,

“If any one have given herbs to another so that he die, he shall be sentenced to 200 shillings (or shall surely be given over to fire).”

“If any person have bewitched another, and he who was thus treated shall escape, the author of the crime, who is proved to have committed it, shall be sentenced to 2500 denars, which make 63 shillings.”

“If somebody accuses another of witchcraft, and he brings to the thing the cauldron in which the accused is said to make brews, then let the accused be fined 2500 dinars which makes 63 shillings.”

“If somebody causes another person to waste away by means of witchcraft, and he is able to prove it at the thing, then let the accused be fined 1008 dinars which makes 200 shillings”

Some observations on the above…

To start, these are not my translations and the term “witchcraft” does not reflect the original language of the laws and/or that of the document they were record in. The specific term or terms that were used were certainly not *witchcraft*, which is fairly English specific in the Germanic world, and, for better and for worse, simply the term deemed equivalent in these modern translations.

The technical terminology really does matter, more-and-more, as one gets increasingly intimate with the subtleties and nuances of the subject, ie. not everything called “witchcraft” or “seidhR” (etc., etc.) actually reflect the practices of *witchcraft* or *seidhR* (etc., etc.).

Anyway, most of the Salic laws deal with *harm* caused by magic; lending a general no harm, no foul sense to the spirit of the laws There is however the one exception where presenting evidence of the mere practice of “witchcraft”, ie. the cauldron, no harm to anyone required, invited a legal penalty.

While this suggests a fundamental, and very understandable mistrust of “magic”, dealing as magic does in the hidden, the unseen, and indeed the anti-social, one will note that in each of the above citations, proof is explicitly demanded by the Salic law; even if the laws only outline the details of what constitutes proof in one instance; no doubt assuming what for them and theirs was culturally obvious. This suggests an equally fundamental mistrust of the very *accusation* of witchcraft, which again is very understandable given it’s “hidden” nature.

Finally, except for the one vague reference to being “given over to the fire”, ie. burned, the Salica Law prescribes “common penalties”, ie. fines, to these acts. Both of the acts that indicate the practice of harmful magic, but result in no harm, are otherwise prescribed at 63 shillings. This is an amount equal to those fines associated with the theft of an entire flock of 25 sheep, the *rape* (sexual) of a freeborn woman, the assault and plundering of a freeman, and attempted killing of a freeman. All of which were serious offenses.

Curiously, the two instances that result in death, result in a fine of 200 shillings, which, while clearly marking it as a far more serious offense than such others as mentioned, falls on the low-end of the wergild (life-price) system within the context of the Salic Law. This is equal to the fine for having been found guilty of grave-robbing, opposed the settlement of a migrant vouched for by king and thing, and the wergild of a woman beyond her child baring years and your average freeman.

By way of comparison, to have killed a freeman and then attempted to hide it (ie. murder as opposed to man-killing) carried a fine of 600 shillings; whereas death caused by magic was reckoned at 200 shillings.

One will also note the relative lack of reference to women in the Salic Laws as they pertain to the practice of “magic”. And that even where they are explicitly referenced in relation to witchcraft, they must also be viewed within the context of the greater body of Salic law and it’s valuation of women; which, as just referenced, reckoned the life-price of a vibrant and virile young freeman as equal to a woman beyond her child-baring years, and at THREE TIMES LESS than a freeborn woman in her child-baring years!

The AD 6th century Gallo-Roman Catholic, Gregory of Tours writes casually of those with prophetic powers within the context of royal Merovingian interactions. (eg. Guntram and the seeress).

The Merovingians were of course the same people who, some 35 years prior to the birth of Gregory, gave us the Salic Law, with it’s laws involving “magic” and “magical harm”.

Gregory also related a story in which a Merovingian queen, one of the wives of Chilperic, Fredegund I’d presume — who lived at the time of Gregory, and appears to have been loathed by him — ordered the torture of “a number of Parisian women” (and a man named Mumulus), believed to have killed her young son, Theodoric, via the use of herb potions and magic.

As Gregory wrote, “They admitted to the practice of witchcraft and the perpetration of many deaths… The queen afflicted them with even more horrendous forms of torture. Some she beheaded, others she cosigned to the flames, and still others were killed on the wheel with their bones broken.”

The Edictum Rothari (c.643 AD) is to Lombardic law what the Salic law is to Salian-Franks; a compilation and writing down of the formerly oral legal traditions of the Lombards. On “witchcraft” it states,

“If a man accuses a girl or free woman who is under the guardianship of another, of practicing witchcraft or prostitution,… if he shall persevere in his accusation and insist that he can prove it, then let the case be decided by a judical duel or “camfio” so that the matter may be left to the judgement of God”.

It also states,

“Let no man presume to kill another’s female servant for being a witch (striga or mascam) for such things are not credible to the Christian mind and it is not possible to eat a living man from the inside out.”

Here we get some insight into the seeming impatience behind the relation of the duel to the charges of witchcraft, and the notion that it represented little more than a vile slur against someone’s honour than anything more substantial.

This very Christian, very unheathen view of “harmful magic” would find further expression, as we read in Charlemagne’s Capitulary on Saxony (AD 782),

“If any one deceived by the devil shall have believed, after the manner of the pagans, that any man or woman is a witch and eats men, and on this account shall have burned the person, or shall have given the person’s flesh to others to eat, or shall have eaten it himself, let him be punished by a capital sentence.”

— Charlemagne, Capitulary on Saxony

This trivialization of witchcraft, the refusal to acknowledge it’s power, and ultimately the impatient will to punish the accuser, was the initial Christian reaction to Germanic “witchcraft”. And it stood in direct opposition to indigenous Germanic belief and general mistrust in magic along with accusations dealing in the unseen.

The earliest Anglo-Saxon Law Codes make no reference to the practice of witchcraft. Of course, it took Kent almost 100 years to draft laws against “devil worship”, so that is perhaps not at all surprising.

Nevertheless, the fundamental mistrust, indeed hostility, of at least the Anglii toward “harmful magic” is very apparent in a story Bede related regarding King Aethelfrith of Northumbria (late 6th to early 7th century AD) and a band of monks he encountered who were praying “against the swords of the barbarians” (ie. against Aethelfrith). Bede further writes,

“King Ethelfrid being informed of the occasion of their coming, said, “If then they cry to their God against us, in truth, though they do not bear arms, yet they fight against us, because they oppose us by their prayers.” He, therefore, commanded them to be attacked first, and then destroyed the rest”.

It is not until the Laws of Alfred that we begin see witchcraft enter the laws as a punishable offense; though we should remember that the orthodox Christian stance of the matter of witchcraft among the Germanic peoples was, up til now, that witchcraft was just so much superstitious hogwash. With Alfred’s Laws however we not only see witchcraft introduced as a punishable crime, but we see it introduced firmly within the context of the Old Testament,

“the women who are in the habit of receiving wizards and sorcerers and magicians, thou shalt not suffer to live”.

By the time of Cnut’s Laws we see the beginning of the conflation of witchcraft, not only with “harmful magic” and it’s own more traditional associations with secret killing, perjury, adultery, and incest, but also with such “heathen practices” as the “worship of heathen gods and the sun and the moon, fire or flood, wells or stones or any kind of forest tree”.

Conflation of various distinct disciplines, such as that of the spakona and seidhkona, are themselves clear in the North Germanic lore, and likely went the way of England in growing to include all sorts of heathen observances.

By the time of the witchhunts of the 15th and 16th centuries, it had expanded to include non-orthodox Christian belief; where heathen, heretic, and witch could be used more-or-less interchangeably. We see a similar evolution to the word racist in modern timers. And it is here that we modern folk first picked up the now muddled mess that the old magical and religious lore of our ancestors had become.

As a result, such things beg to be questioned. What is worship as opposed to the practice of magic? What is good magic and what is bad magic? And to what degree should those who dabble in such anti-social pursuits as influencing society via hidden (and often solitary) means be tolerated in our midst? And to what degree should accusations regarding “things unseen” themselves be tolerated?