Category Archives: Folklore

Of Irminsuls and World Trees

Some of you may have heard about the destruction of the Saxon Irminsul by Charlemagne (Karl der Große, Carolus Magnus) in 772. During his efforts to destroy the German tribe, Charlemagne destroyed the Saxon fort called (H)eresburg and the stone sanctity of the Irminsul that stood near. The fort stood near to what is now the town of Obermarsberg in Westfalen.

Only about 40 kilometres from this place, a more famous Irminsul could be found. It is not certain what the Irminsul at the “Extersteine” (near Paderborn) looked like or where is was located exactly (some writers say that the Irminsul destroyed by Charlemagne was the one at or near the Extersteine), but that the Extersteine were a Germanic sacred place is one thing that can be no doubt about. The stones themselves are strange ‘mountains’ upto 30 metres high that seem to have come straight up from the ground. A room is cut out of them, there is a stone ‘grave’ (used for initiations?), a gigantic god hanging against one of the mountains, the biggest stone-cutting of Europe and a temple all the way up one of the stones. The room was Christianised into a chapel and is now closed to the public. It is said that there are ancient drawings or texts on the walls inside. I only know about a rune-like figure for sure. Also there is something which may have been a ritual bath.
When I was at the Extersteine in the summer of 2004 I didn’t know about the “hangagod”. It is a figure that hangs as if he is nailed to a cross. The figure is partly formed by natural cracks, partly cut out manually. The figure is taken for being Odin, hanging from the Yggdrasil in order to learn the secret of the runes. Very well-known is the very detailed stone cutting with a scene of Christ being taken off the cross. A sun and a moon are present, some strange figures, the bottom part is said to be made by the Germans, while the Christians cut their own relief over it. Striking is the bend Irminsul on which one of the figures (Nicodemus according to some) is standing. This last may be a reference to the fact that the Germans indeed worshipped an Irminsul at the Extersteine and that the Christians wanted to show that their faith is better than the pagan superstition. read more

Old symbolism in a modern city

When you are walking through an old village, your eye may fall on artistic expressions of what you can call ‘traditional art’. Symbols on houses, in fences, on roofs, etc. When you start to notice them, you may also find them in more modern villages, on farmhouses, etc. But, when you know what to look for, you will also find these traditional expressions in a modern city! I live in Eindhoven in the south of the Netherlands. For many decades this city has been known for finding everything older than 50 years, old enough to break down. Only recently people realised that by doing so, the history of the city itself is lost. Many old buildings no longer excist. There even have been thoughts to get rid off the famous “Evoluon” or the “light tower” in which Philips lamps have been tested for many decades. Fortunately this never happened. Now older buildings sometimes get a new function. But, that is not what this article is about. read more

Cubic stones from the sky

Johannes Bureus (1568-1652) (about him and his system more in other articles) said that his “15 adalrunor [“noble runes”] [were] inscribed on a cubical stone which fell from the heavens as a sign of the powerfull divinity on the mediator between God and Man.” (Flowers 1998, p. 12). For Bureus, runes formed the most ancient, original and divine language and the many runestones that can be found in Bureus’ country (Sweden) were mediators between the world of men and the upper world. The fact that Bureus ‘chose’ a cubic stone that fell from the sky is interesting. read more

Rune calendars

Many years ago when I was reading F.E. Farwerck’s Noord-Europese Mysteriën for the first time and when I saw the “stafkalender” (“stave calendar”) on page 104 (see above), I was captured by this strange image. The writer doesn’t give a whole lot of information. The image contains parts of the months December and January of what is said to be a calendar. Farwerck only refers to the inverted horn which supposedly marks the end of the 12 days period after the winter solstice (on 12 January?). read more


Maybe you don’t immediately realise this, but slang or dialect is about the only remaining regional/local tradition that is left in our modern age. It is also rapidly fading away. I was so fortunate to be raised in a small in village and in a family that still spoke (speaks) the local dialect. On elementary school we of course did speak “general civilized Dutch”, because you had to be able to speak it, especially when you would go to work in a city. Actually, dialect was already looked upon with ‘a skew eye’ as we say and many parents no longer taught their children the local language. Of course this was also due to the fact that many people who work in Eindhoven (and may have come from anywhere in the Netherlands), wanted to live outside the city and ended up in ‘my region’. But then again, as soon as we had to go to secondary school in a small town up north where people from the whole region came, you were considered ‘backward’ or ‘loutish’ (our word “boers” refers to “boer” or “farmer”). This became even worse when study took place in (in my case) Eindhoven and especially people who moved outside ‘our dialectical family area’ to study. read more