Category Archives: Symbolism

Fire in Northern mythology

Fire, a concept that is very present in Northern mythology and also a concept that I have broken my head over for some time now. The symbology is multi-layered and however I still haven’t fully worked out the subject, I want to present some thoughts and come to an interpretation of some elements of Northern mythology.

Creation

There are two primal forces in Nordic myths, two forces that are known under the names, “fire” and “ice”. Before there was anything, there was Ginungagap, a “yawning gap”. In the south of it, fire ‘resided’ and in the north, ice. When these two came together, everything started. So, fire is the primal force, one side of the Divine. Some symbology! read more

Thórr, God of initiation

Recently I wrote an article with thoughts on the symbolism of the posture of the famous statue of Odhinn. I am sure you understood that this article is not meant to say that this is what the statue ‘means’, the article contains “thoughts on symbolism”. Other writers will say that this posture of Odin is a ‘cultic posture’. More funny even is that there is a statue of Thórr, found in Schmedt an der Oder (so he will have been called “Donar” or something similar), with the same posture as Odin in the statue that my other article was about. Also, Farwerck also has the image ‘little man of the year’ accompanied by the text, “idol, probably Thor”. But of course, more famous is the Icelandic statue of Thor with him sitting and… and what actually? The first thought is that this statue represents Thor and his hammer Mjöllnir. Modern replicas proof that people think that this is the case, but both in the traditional and in the modern version of the statue it is not clear if the figure holds a hammer under his chin or that he holds his beard; or even, if his beard is the handle of the hammer. read more

Odhinn, God of the year

In Lindby in Sweden a famous statue of Odin was found, a photo (that I took from Arild Hauge) shows it. As you can see the statue misses an arm. Replicas usually look like the one you can see on the right. I have this particular one myself, it is from Sacred Source. Both his hands in his sides, did you ever wonder why? We often take things for granted too easily, also the (neo)pagans among us. Personally I can’t imagine that the image just happens to be as it is and there are some things that may confirm this idea. Let me take you on a short journey through Gemanic symbolism. read more

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