The Lost Deities of the Neolithic
2013 03 27

By Francis Beswick | Suite101

Even today, in the Black Glen, at the head of Glen Lyon, in Spring an ancient ritual takes place. The shepherd who guards the the Old Man and the Old Woman takes them from their place of safety and restores them to their Tigh, house, a small structure which has been re-roofed with new thatch for the occasion. An Bodach agus an Cailleach [old man and old woman] are small standing stones that represent ancient deities. Glen Lyon was not the only place where these two turned up. Up to the nineteenth century Western Scottish fishermen setting out to sea would stop at the now deserted isle of Gigha to pay their respects to the Bodach and the Caileach, two megaliths that had stood on Gigha since before written history was dreamed of.

The Vanir

The Norse had two sets of deities, the Aesir and the Vanir. Mythology tells of a clash between them, resulting in the defeat of the Vanir, who were forced into an inferior role. But the Aesir took Vanir wives and the two dwelt side by side and were both worshiped. What was happening is a classic case of the suppression of old gods by a new cultus. We see this in the way that the Olympic deities were thought to have defeated the Titans in Greek mythology and in the way that the Asuras were relegated to a lower level by the incoming Indian Devas in Hindu tradition. Grigsby considers that the Vanir were the deities of the Neolithic Age. We know them best through Norse myth, but they were worshiped under various names across Europe. He considers that the Aesir were the gods of the aristocratic, warrior class, while the Vanir were more relevant to the common folk, as they dealt with more mundane things, like harvest and childbirth

While the Vanir are Norse, there are similar deities across Europe, pointing to a common religious stratum across European lands. Two Vanir who were worshiped were Freyr [Lord] and his wife, Freya [the lady.] This is not a far cry from the Bodach and the Cailleach. A similar pair were found in Ireland, where the Dagda mated with Morrigan. It is significant that the Vanir were thought to be in male-female pairs. Interestingly the Vanir are still culturally with us, because they were also known as the Alfar, the shining ones, now popularised as elves. In Irish myth the Neolithic deities were the source of the myth of the Tuatha de Danaan, the people of the goddess Dana. They were forced to retreat to the burial mounds, where they became known as the Sidhe [Shee.] This may relate to the fact that they were often associated with burial rites and the cult of ancestors. Interestingly, the elves and the fairies [the fair folk, a name similar to shining ones] are linked in popular imagery with hallucinogenic toadstools, around which they dance. This may be a folk memory of a time when hallucinogenic fungi were used in the rites of the Vanir.

Modranicht


This is the forgotten festival of Britain. It means the night of the mothers and was celebrated by the Anglo-Saxon pagans in honour of certain maternal deities. It is a Saxon word, but it is far older than the Saxon presence in the Island. We know this because there are some Roman inscriptions dedicated to the mothers, and they show a set of three goddesses. It is clear that the ancient Britons and the Romans worshiped the mothers. As these deities do not form part of the Olympian pantheon or the cult of the Aesir, it is likely that the mothers belonged to the Vanir or its British equivalent.

When the Anglo-Saxons arrived they did not come as a slaughtering, genocidal horde, but as warriors invited in to support the kingdoms of Britain against attacks by invading Picts and, let’s face it by each other, for the when the Romans left the Britons took the opportunity to wind up old feuds. The arriving Anglo-Saxons did not come to a people strange to them, for their common folk soon found out that Celtic paganism had much in common with their own pagan worship. As the Britons and Saxons intermarried, so their cultuses fused together, as generally happens in paganism.

Nerthus

Tacitus observes that the Angles were one of the seven tribes who lived by the Baltic who worshiped the great goddess, and he recounts a ritual that was important in their religious faith. In Winter the goddess left her abode in a sacred grove and went among humans, being driven on a wagon. Her name was Nerthus, but "us" is a masculine word ending, so it is possible that Nerthus, typically of the Vanir, was really Nertha and had a male counterpart. During this time there was no fighting; iron was put away; and women danced in their shifts [underclothes] to celebrate the goddess. After three days she was thought to tire of her sojourn in the realm of men and would return to her sacred grove on an island in the sea.

The dark side of Vanir worship sets in here, for the wagon was cleaned in a sacred lake by slaves, who were then drowned in the lake as a sacrifice. This indicates that up to two hundred years before they arrived in England the ancestors of the English were practising human sacrifice, but this seems to have ceased before they arrived in Britain.

[...]

Read the full article at: suite101.com



Related Articles
Ghosts of the Old World: Ancient Artifact Pictures to Make Your Hair Stand on End
Votan: Diffusionist Deity
The Green Gods: New Religion and Eco-Faith
Snake-Bird Gods Fascinated Both Aztecs and Pharaohs
Greek gods prepare for comeback
The Magic and Sorcery of Iceland
Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths
The Aztec and Norse god of war are both missing one hand
Neolithic discovery: Why Orkney is the centre of ancient Britain


Latest News from our Front Page

BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
2014 07 30
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept. The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, ...
Forgetting Herbert Marcuse (19 July 1898 - 29 July 1979)
2014 07 30
Herbert Marcuse, so-called ’Father of the New Left’, died 35 years ago today. Marcuse was a philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist associated with the Frankfurt School of Social Research. He was born in Berlin in 1898 to Jewish parents, Carl Marcuse and Gertrud Kreslawsky. In 1916 he was draughted into the army, but he only worked the stables. Apparently fond of ...
Gallery owner in shock – wants to leave Sweden
2014 07 30
Don’t miss our upcoming interview with Henrik Rönnquist --- Gallery owner in shock – wants to leave Sweden By Ingrid Carlqvist | Dispatch International Eight hours after police stepped into his gallery, apprehended artist Dan Park, and seized at least eight pictures, gallery owner Henrik Rönnquist is still in shock. – Sure, we joked about Dan being arrested, but never in our wildest dreams ...
Whistleblower: Margaret Thatcher knew all about underage sex ring
2014 07 29
Margaret Thatcher was told about alleged sex parties with under-age boys held by one of her closest aides claims her former personal bodyguard. Barry Strevens, who worked as the prime minister’s personal bodyguard, said that he passed on allegations about her confidant Sir Peter Morrison. The former senior police officer said that Lady Thatcher appointed Sir Peter deputy party chairman of the ...
The Absurd, Bureaucratic Hell That Is the American Police State
2014 07 29
“The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet ...
More News »