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  1. #11
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    Re: Eostre, Local and Modern Gods

    Quote Originally Posted by Hildeburh View Post
    Of course it is problematic but so is accepting the Norse pantheon, as outlined by medieval Icelandic literature as representative of the entirety of the Germanic world view. The Germanic tribes were polytheists their god/esses were localised and specific to tribes and regions. There are Continental sources, may I suggest that you focus on them rather than the Icelandic literature, it may assist you in building a more individual, regionally focused practice.

    Like who? Wodan, Frija , Ziu, Donar, Nerthus, Tuisto, Sunna, Baduhenna, Tamfana, the ancestral Mothers' etc. These were all local deities, how is that different from honouring the Norse pantheon?

    It's a useful starting point if you are Asatru not so much if your focus is the Continent or in my case Anglo Saxon England. Did these cults expand from Scandinavia? Or did they expand into Scandinavia? Or are some of these cult specifically Scandinavian? All interesting questions to ask youself and research.
    The difficulty I have with "localized" deities is that I am imagining, correctly or not, that their primary means of relating to humans was through the community rather than through a particular "function" like war, fertility etc. For example, a "localized" Frija may have been primarily a goddess who provided benefits for the community that worshiped her rather than as a deity that presided over a particular set of functions.

    The reason why this is difficult for me, and ultimately why I find the pantheon as described in Snorri's Edda to be useful, is that I have no real connection to either the geographical or the community-based roles of theses deities. Frija as the goddess of a particular location is unhelpful as I am not located anywhere near those areas where she was historically worshiped. Frija as the goddess of a particular community is not particularly helpful as I can can't be part of a cultural community that is quite distant from me both geographically and temporally.

    This is why I tend to be more focused on the "function" of Gods because that is something I can relate to. Frija as a goddess who has influence over the functioning of the family is something that works for me, because that is something I experience every day. It is difficult for me to related to Donar as, for example a God who protects a particular small and extinct community in Germany 1300 years ago, but I can easily relate to him as a more general protector of mankind or as deity associated with storms, thunder, rain etc.

    In other words, I think "function" has a transferability across time and space that geographical and community specificity does not. I'm not saying that this is the way it has to be for everyone (for example, a geographical specificity may be a much more useful way of building a relationship with a Germanic/European deity for Vixen than it is for me), but I personally find "function" to be the only thing that has really allowed me to conceptualize the Gods as something actually existing in the world rather than as names in a book.

    To some extent I am somewhat influenced in this by a long-ago thread on Asatru Lore,
    which articulated what I found to be a fascinating, and possibly unique take on what a God is.

    To take a couple of quotes from the first two posts in the thread which I think articulate the overall idea quite well;

    "What if heathens carried in their worldview not so much the being of the god but rather the title/ role? Through worship and results, the role is filled and the folk are satisfied."


    "This fits very well with my own interpretation of the 'American-enigma'. For me the notion of a god breaks down to a simplified combination, that the god is a being that provides for x need better than another being, in time the same concept of the being or the god's functionality, iconography and etymology can spread over a wide territory. Now, in my model, based upon various sources, the god's funtions ands hades of being may be what is spreading and not so much the actual being (god). In short, the gods differ, but have a similar name based upon a similar combination of memes and influences.

    And so, Donar of my people and region may have a similar name and role to my folk than he does to Icelanders, but he is widely different than the Thor of Iceland. I think a good way of illustrating this in a global village (there is no need for this on a smaller more local scale) is if we called them by their name and region or people of worship, IE Donar of Runatyr, Thor of Iceland, Thunnar of England, etc."

    What I take from this is that a God can be a local wight that fulfills a particular role for a community. A "Thor" of Western Canada need not be the same being as a "Thor" is Australia or Denmark. But all of those local beings can do what a "Thor" is expected to do by a community that worships him.

    To try and square the circle of this thread, perhaps the modern Eostre is not the same being as the local Anglo-Saxon deity, but instead a number of local beings who (in modern conceptions) as associated with/have some influence over/are manifest within spring and the dawn. Perhaps.
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  2. #12
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    Re: Eostre, Local and Modern Gods

    Quote Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
    That's an interesting discussion you have going here. I'd like to know more about it.

    I consider myself heathen to some extent, but not Asatru. My daily practice focusses on Cernunnos as he was the first to reach out to me. But Woden has been on my mind a lot lately too. This confuses me as I really do search for deities from western continental Europe where I live (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany). Cernunnos pops up throughout this region, but so does Woden. Yet they are of completely different 'pantheons'. And I use " for pantheons cause I'm not even sure of Cernunnos belongs to a pantheon at all. I am not sure how I should look at both.

    Whats more, they say Woden is the same god as Odin but somehow he feels different to me than the Odin I know from stories. Older, less refined and more brutal. It's difficult for me to reconcile Woden with stories of Odin cause Odin feels very Scandinavian to me.
    Your instict that Wodan and Odin are different gods is correct. Woden is Old English, Wodan is Old Saxon, Wodan is found in the continental sources. There are limited sources for both Wodan and Woden and much of what you read online conflates Woden and Wodan with Odin as if they are interchangable. Etymologically, as Shaw points out, the words Wodan/Woden have a different origin from that of Odin. The name Wodan/Woden is derived from Wod = mad and the suffix "en" in Old English means made of whereas Odin name derives from Óðr with the suffix inn. There's a discussion here on the etymology of Odin here


    There is an interesting theory (Kaliff and Sundqvist) that the cult of Odin was influenced by that of Mithras:


    Heathen cults were regional, Odin's cult is much later than that of Wodan and Woden and does not appear to have been known outside of Scandinavia before the 10th century.
    Continental Wodan is first mentioned in the 7th century by Jonas of Bobbio (Vita Sancti Columbani), who also tells us that Wodan was worshipped by the Suebi. Wodan is attested in the origin myth of the Langobardi (in the Chronicon and Origo Gentis Langobardorum), the Nordendorf brooch rune inscription and the Second Merseburg Charm these sources seem to indicate that Wodan is a God associated with healing, military victory and tribal identity.

    In the Old English sources Woden features in the Maxims I (B), Old English Nine Herbs Charm, as an ancestor in the royal house of Æthelberht of Kent and place name evidence. So from surviving sources Woden seems to be associated with healing, building or creation and royal identity. The continental Wodan and OE Woden were equated with the Mercurius, who in Anglo Saxon sources seems to be associated with healing.

    I tend to stay away from neopagan sites, the information can be questionable, so besides the medieval and archeological sources these are well worth reading:

    P.A. Shaw: Uses of Woden
    S. Gundy: Cult of Odinn: God of Death?
    N. Price: Odin's Whisper

    There is very little archeological evidence of the cult of Cernunnos and a great deal written is still corrupted by Margaret Murray depiction of a widespread cult of the horned god. There's a good discussion of Cernunnos here:

    Last edited by Hildeburh; 19 Apr 2017 at 06:47 PM. Reason: Correct authors name

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