The Thule Book by Bernard King
"Those of us who grew up in homes where our national festivals were celebrated know how much warmth and colour they brought into our childhood. In some of us, at least, they seemed to stir a racial memory and link us more closely to the generations that had gone before us."
In memoriam Bernard Arthur King 1906 - 1995
Fragments of this study have appeared in slightly different form as articles for the magazines "Talking Stick" and "Pagan Voice" and the co-operation of the editors is gratefully acknowledged. Parts of the early chapters were originally issued in booklet form by the Asatru Folk Runic Workshop/Rune Gild UK. Here that material has been thoroughly revised and augmented. Thanks is also due to Element Books as some of the runic material is taken from my book "The Elements of the Runes". It appears here both expanded and updated. Some of the illustrations were tidied by Ian Read for inclusion in the first booklet edition. I am particularly grateful to Simon Sneath for scanning in many further ones.
This book is dedicated to the many who have assisted its progress: Freya Aswynn, the Odinic Rite, true Northerners everywhere, working as they are in their own separate ways to revitalise and retrieve the spirit of Ultima Thule. It is also, as a lifetime's labour, dedicated to the memory of my father, Bernard Arthur King, who in my personal prejudice I regard as having been the best Thulian who ever lived.
Frontispiece: Abaris, the Mage of Hyperborea, from John Wood's "Essay towards a Description of Bath", first published in 1742.
CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 6
1. THULE AND THE NAZIS 11 The Late Nineteenth Century - The Thule Gesellschaft - Hitler and the Swastika - Thule, The Nazis and Racism - Thule and the SS - Thulian Aspects of the Third Reich - The Last Crusade? - German Neo-Paganism - Replacing Christianity - Philosophy - Neo-Paganism and the Calendar - Survivals - Optimism Misfounded - A First Lesson of Ultima Thule
2. A SHORT HISTORY OF THULE 29 Pytheas of Marseilles - Early Exploration - Sextus Sylla - Ogygia - Cronus/Saturnus Carthage - Demetrius - Tacitus - Was Thule Iceland? - Was Thule Greenland? - The Migration from Thule
3. BRITAIN AND HYPERBOREA 43 Hyperborea, Apollo and Thule - Silenus - Geoffrey of Monmouth and Brutus - Nennius Geoffrey and Nennius Interpreted - The Daughters of Danaus - Perceptions of Thule and Hyperborea - Was Hyperborea Britain?
4. BLADUD AND THE DRUIDS 55 Abaris/Bladud - Ancient British Universities - The Anax Connection - The First Philosophers - Druids - Arthur, Bladud and Merlin - King Arthur and the Wild Hunt - The Original Merlin
5. THE SURVIVAL OF THULIAN CULTURE IN THE NORTH 69 Pythagoras - Serpents and Seidr - Thule, Prophecy and the Northern Peoples - The Runes Seidr and Northern Magic - Platform Prophecy and Magic - The Thul - The Völva
6. LATER THULIAN SURVIVALS 89 The Medieval Period - Witchcraft - Johannes Faust - The Heathen - Seeking Thule's Wisdom - Woman - Prophecy - Racial Identity and Heritage - Healing and Blighting - Magical Flight Shape-Shifting - Longevity and Reincarnation
8. THE HYPERBOREANS 121 Thulian Visitors to Greece - The Founders of Delphi - Boreas and the Boreades - Hesperus Notus - Zephyrus - Orithyia -Cleopatra - Chione - Zetes and Calais - Boötes - Hecaerge -Leto - Loxo - Opis
9. THULE AND RELIGION TODAY 128 The Nature of Religion - Polytheism - Religion and Ethics - The Thulian Faith - The Thulian Deities - The Original Apollo and Artemis - The Ideals of Thule - Human Relationships - The Thulian Priesthood - Grades
CONCLUSION The Past - The Present - The Future - A Personal Note
APPENDIX. THE SYMBOLS OF ULTIMA THULE 144
BIBLIOGRAPHY 168 ILLUSTRATIONS
Frontispiece: Abaris, the Mage of Hyperborea.
Fig.6: Shape-shifted witches in flight from Molitor's "Von den Unholden und Hexen", printed in 1489. 103
Fig.8: Symbols from the Hällristningar. 145
It would be comfortable if I could say that this was not a political book. It is not political, in that whatever any British political party does today has little enough in real terms, I believe, to do with our past. We are still debating old issues, such as how close should be Britain's ties to Europe, the continent from which the ancestors of the vast majority of the population of these island emigratedin the new millennium. The curse of politics is that in my dictionary it occurs between polite and polka. One is what we should all be, if only as a courtesy to our fellows. The other is something that some of us have chosen to dance to.
When I submitted an early draft of this manuscript to an American publisher it was heavily criticised for not being "politically correct". "Cultural heritage" is one of those emotive phrases, like F. Marian MacNeill's "racial memory" (writing over 30 years ago in 1966) which requires to be used but is frequently misunderstood by the sensitive. This was something I learned the hard way, discovering the highly emotive phrase "Jew-Communist" appearing in the reader's report. It was not an expression that I had used anywhere in the text, and it was used because at one point I speak of the Jewish members of a
mid-1920s German regional Communist government. Karl Marx was Jewish, so a Jewish Communist should not be a shocking concept. The employment of the phrase, however, demonstrates how easy it is for bias to creep into any consideration. The passage which prompted its unwarranted creation by the American reader was closely based on a passage taken from a work published by the University of Chicago Press in 1955. Yet the reader and/or his or her publisher was so sensitive that a revision of historically-accurate descriptions and a judgementally biased approach to many historical phenomena would have been required in order to have the manuscript considered. In fact anything which even begins to erode political correctness is totally beyond the pale (a wooden stake, usually of chestnut, secured to others of its kind by wire and used for fencing areas off). All this is "by the way" but may offer a small insight into the sometimes uncompromising text which follows.
There are, for all thinking people, two realities. One is the reality of the present, be it careless self-sufficiency or, increasingly as society, both capitalist and communist, strives to alter without actually admitting it is undergoing significant change, constraining state allowances. The other reality is the more caring and uplifting one which so many wish to aspire to. That is why this book is both a historical and mythological detective story and an attempt to recreate the way of thought and wonder of a vanished age.
Within the heart of even the most stolid individual there lies a deep-seated desire to believe in the incredible. This manifests in a variety of ways - the observance of peculiar superstitions, a tendency to religious extravagance, even a desire for ecstatic visions induced by either socially acceptable or prohibited drugs. One of the most widespread and popular manifestations of the outwardly incredible is the idea of the vanished homeland, the lost island or continent from which the race ancestors emerged by migration prior to its cataclysmic destruction.
Yet the incredible is actually here, all around us. Many a mind has been captivated by Plato's Atlantis, a large island in the Atlantic Ocean beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and the theosophical Lemuria of the Pacific. The books these mostly hypothetical realms have inspired now defy counting. Films, TV series, plays and records extol the vanished Golden Age of man's forgotten or mythical past. Elaborate theses are written to prove, beyond all possible doubt or at least to the satisfaction of the author and his acolytes, that such and such
an island was Atlantis, that this part of the South American land-mass was a province of the Theosophical Lemuria, or that a lost island in the Mediterranean and not the Indus Valley was the cradle of civilisation.
In most cases, and especially so with the all but vanished Thule and Hyperborea of the Northlands, it is not the physical existence of the homeland which is important to the individual. What really matters is the belief that the lost homeland was once a reality. The facts must not be allowed to spoil the story. Only the myth can triumph where objective reality is permitted to have no immediate relevance.
The one lost homeland, the one vanished Isle of the Primogenitor, which has been studiously ignored by the mythographers, is one which, like its better-known companions in the uncharted seas of speculation, is mentioned by classical authors. It is also suitably remote in time and place to warrant its own legends and literary and dramatic representations. That homeland is the vanished realm called Ultima Thule.
In the following study the legends of Thule and Hyperborea are explored, not because they are forgotten myths but because they constitute the roots of unknown realities. Thule, and the closely allied Hyperborea, are still forces to be reckoned with in the modern world, as events during this century have already revealed. They have shaped much of our ancient and modern history. Their perversion directly and secretly inspired the greatest carnage and genocide this planet has ever known. They influenced world leaders and brought millions to destruction in order that the negative form of Thule should live again. It still does, and there is even a continuing possibility that this negative Thulianism might still triumph over modern society, ultimately benefiting neither the masses nor the chosen few.
Thule was the spiritual homeland of the Nordic and Germanic peoples, and also of other, possibly more noticed if not more notable, branches of mankind such as the ancient Greeks. At some point in this planet's comparatively recent history Thule and Hyperborea "vanished" from the face of the earth. The loss of these locations as "physical places", however, did not eradicate the influence which they have exercised over both the entire world and the Northern nations. The mysteries taught by the Thulians continue to be perpetuated in many ways, notably in the religious and magical beliefs of the classical Greeks, the modern witch cult and our Viking forebears.
At its coming Christianity unwisely failed to differentiate between Thulian/Hyperborean doctrine and Paganism in general. Christianity's missionaries sought simply to implant their own limited creed in Pagan soil by whatever means were appropriate at the time. Throughout the medieval and later periods the teachings of Thule and Hyperborea were transmitted from generation to generation by the select few to whom they were entrusted, with the result that they may be successfully reconstructed today.
Today we might think of THULE as an acronym. Truth is something which those who possess it should be required to offer to all, though we should never forget to temper it with consideration in so far as we are able to without being dishonest. A painful truth disclosed in stages is often more easily accepted than if it is blurted out all at once or set up as an ultimatum. Many individuals in almost every nation make a good living out of this simple philosophy by calling it "statesmanship" or "diplomacy". Truth is, for the Thulian, the moral quality of being honest by conforming to fact (which is often nothing more than simply majority belief) or reality (which equates to the known actualities of the society in which we
live) within the context of our actual or perceived cultural heritage. Truth is the "T" of Thule. The "H" is Honour, the esteem given to true worth, a sense of what is right or due. It is also an implicit and reciprocal arrangement in any communication or dealing between Thulians, who will manifest true honour to one another willingly and without reserve, as they are all "our folk".
Unity, the "U", is the state of oneness, the combination of separate parts, or peoples, into a connected whole, or the coming together of different peoples with a common aim. Complete unity, whilst any given totalitarian political regime or faith survives, is an impossible goal as peoples will always be divided amongst themselves. Thule thus becomes a passive enemy in seeking to play its part in eroding their stability.
"L" is for that love which covers such a range of emotions from affection to passion and applies to objects and doctrines as diverse as deities and boxes of chocolates, with real people and real feelings coming somewhere in-between in real terms. Jehovah's fiat to "love thy neighbour", cited as one of "the Ten Commandments", certainly wasn't intended to be broad enough to include other contemporary nations, as subsequent Biblical narratives clearly showed. David hardly returned with the foreskins of a thousand Philistines without annoying, to put it mildly, one or two of them.
The last letter, "E", stands for environment. Environment means the place and mode of living, together with the friends, social influences, education and other pressures which inevitably modify the life of an individual. It is a visible manifestation of one's cultural heritage. Today, long overdue, as man begins to see signs of his planetary environment crumbling around him as a result of his own ignorance, greed and carelessness, it has finally become a matter of concern.
We only need to place a special emphasis upon our racial and cultural roots if we perceive that they are being eroded by others. Once we have truly established a trans-ethnic tradition, where the concept of the folk has become a reality, can all the peoples of this planet recover what, for each, is an ignored and denigrated heritage. Only then, when we have learned the secrets of truth, honour, unity, love and our environment, can every race and creed on Earth today demonstrate its worth and relevance.
I hope that this book can be about such a relevance. Certainly in its examination of ancient mysteries from different parts of the world it seeks to provide common ground rather than a divisive philosophy. And by examining and appreciating each other’s reality the peoples of this planet may, hopefully, draw closer together.
Unlike Robert Graves, whose work on the Greek myths is frequently cited in the following pages, I am not a poet. I once thought I might be, but that was in a Grammar School sixthform nearly forty years ago, and I have learned much more at harder schools since then. This volume is intended to break new/old ground and give the reader at least a provocative, and hopefully contemplative, journey through its pages. It deals with the ideas of Ultima Thule and Hyperborea as the lost Northern homelands, responsible for influencing, at the very least, Greek, Norse and Celtic/Druidic culture and the early years of Western and Northern civilisation.
lands shared, interpreted from the surviving evidence and updated for our own times. Although I may try I do not dare to hope that we shall postulate the ultimate mysteries of that system of Thulian magic/science which is capable of guiding us through the difficult times we face at present. Science/optimism is advancing too fast for that.
Of necessity there will be some small degree of repetition of matter. This is because we are, in many places, dealing with difficult concepts which require working through in a logical and progressive order if they are to be anything like comprehensible to the reader. It is also necessary, in view of the vagaries of modern publishing, that the diverse material assembled is presented in one book capable of standing alone to benefit the reader. During the course of this study we shall examine the history, the ideals and the resurgence of the concepts we label Hyperborea and Ultima Thule, assembling a great deal of historical and theoretical information, including some aspects of the history of Nazism as the most recent and potent example of Thule's influence. After an examination of Thule's history the time will eventually arrive when the actual doctrines and practices of the vanished Northern homelands may finally begin to be at least partially identified and reconstructed.
This has become a matter of some importance for me (author) as I believe that Thule and Hyperborea still have a valid message for modern man. In order to do justice to our subject we shall be forced to make an assessment of many unpalatable things, including Nazi philosophy and established religion’s often extreme reactions to paganism. The world smugly believes it has learned all the lessons it needs to from those terrible eras in our past, but it has not. It may be asked why the name Thule is preferred as the name for the vanished Northern homeland in this work rather than any other. The answer is simply that I have a bias towards the Northern tradition, and Thule, originating as it appears to do from a Gothic/Greek word (an outwardly unlikely but inwardly potent combination), is more appropriate for my purpose of exploring Northern and Greek parallels. All authors of non-fiction have a bias to display,
otherwise they would not be writing. The difference is that I am prepared to reveal mine openly to the reader, so that he or she may judge my work accordingly. Both truth and honour are important Northern concepts, and I sincerely hope that I may be seen to hold to both of them throughout this study. What we term mythology, pejoratively meaning imaginary stories, is often a re-presentation of real events coloured by time and the intervention of recorded history. Our present objective is to examine the known postulations and extend them into the realm of practicality, thus managing to reconstruct the teachings of the Thulian initiates as much as is possible to guide us in the present "New Age" of confusion.
Another question, which I was asked whilst this book was at draft stage, is best dealt with here. That question was regarding the exact nature of Thule's survival today and is most easily put by asking: "What is Thule?"
The answer is both simple and complex. Thule today is, or could be, quite literally everything that we require. Its influence is to be found in one form or another in virtually every aspect of our present lives. It is a flexible polytheistic faith which permits people to worship as and when and, to a great extent, how they wish. It is a philosophy which reinstates basic, though in many cases sadly forgotten, values for both family life and society in
general. And it is a means of discovering that most submerged and negated, though necessary, aspect of the self which we call personal identity. As a force for unity Thule has enormous potential. It offers the lessons of the past for us to learn from as well as hope for a constructive future. This is why it is so sad that Thule has been abused, abased and forgotten throughout the millennia of its existence, especially in our present century. Whether Thule and Hyperborea were realities or not (though the evidence presented here suggests that they were) is of less relevance than the potency they can exercise over our minds today. Certainly they were there at the beginning. If today they are there at our end we must look to generations before our own. Having said that, and recognising my bias as an author who firmly credits the living power of Thule with the ability to change and improve our world, I believe in the reality of both, and it is upon such a belief that this work has been constructed.
One last aid for the reader needs to be inserted here. Much of the material which follows touches upon the unfamiliar (to many) ground of Norse mythology. The briefest overview of the mythology and its cultural background follows.
After 1000 BC a dialect of the Indo-European language was spoken by most European cultures. From the middle of the 1st millennium BC Germanic tribes lived in southern Scandinavia and northern Germany. We are aware of their expansions and migrations from the second century BC onwards. Importantly for the present study Scandinavian and Germanic mythology have a common origin and structure.
With the exception of the records left by Julius Caesar and Tacitus all sources relating to Germanic mythology are both late and Christian. The main body of traditions is contained in the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson. In the beginning was the void Ginnungagup in which the rivers froze. Sparks from Muspellheim fell on the rivers and melted them, releasing the giant Ymir. From Ymir's sweat other giants, male and female, were formed. Another version relates that the melting drops took the form of the primordial cow, Audhumla, who fed Ymir with her milk. She also licked the salty blocks of ice, shaping them into the form of the first man, Buri. Buri had a son, Bor, who married Bestla, the daughter of a giant called Bolthorn. Their children were the gods Odin, Vili and Ve. Odin and his brothers kill Ymir and from his body fashion the Earth and the heavens.
This trinity endows two tree trunks with the qualities important to human life, and the trunks become the archetypes of the human race. The man is Askr (an ash tree) and the woman is Embla (variously a creeper or an elm). Next the gods build Asgard, the abode of the gods. The great world-ash tree Yggdrasil arises in the centre of the world. Beneath it is the well of fate, Urdr, and the course of human life is decided here. The tree is supported by three roots: one which stretches to the underworld (Hel - a familiar if differently spelled word today), another to the frost-giants and the third to the world of humans. The world's welfare depends upon this primordial tree.
The Norse deities are divided into the Aesir and the Vanir. The most important of the Aesir are Odin, Thor and Tyr. Their counterparts among the Vanir are Njord, Frey and Freya. The Vanir symbolise riches, fertility, and fecundity and are associated with the earth and the sea.
The Aesir symbolise other values. Odin is a magician, the chief amongst the gods and a patron of heroes. Thor is essentially an atmospheric deity of thunder who presides over work. In the distant past a fierce war was fought between the Aesir and the Vanir. This has been perceived as a reflection of the historical encounter of the Germanic peoples with indigenous cultures. Other, more significant encounters, for our century at any rate, followed. Probably the most significant, for our times and our study, now follows.
The Late Nineteenth Century - The Thule Gesellschaft - Hitler and the Swastika - Thule, The Nazis and Racism - Thule and the SS - Thulian Aspects of the Third Reich - The Last Crusade? - German Neo-Paganism - Replacing Christianity - Philosophy - Neo-Paganism and the Calendar - Survivals - Optimism Misfounded - A First Lesson of Ultima Thule
"Like a rising star you appeared before our wondering eyes, you performed miracles to clear our minds and, in a world of scepticism and desperation, gave us faith." Joseph Goebbels on Adolf Hitler, 1922.
The renaissance of occultism which undoubtedly took place during the nineteenth century, establishing influential magical and literary bodies such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in England and the Armanen Orden in Germany, enabled the keepers of Thulian doctrine to introduce beliefs that they had preserved for the better part of two millennia to a waiting and mostly unsuspecting world. At first sight this will appear an outrageous statement, but the outrage will diminish if we recall that the Norse and Germanic peoples, suddenly allowed access once again to their hidden pagan birthright, reacted excessively against the stranglehold of the Judaeo-Christian religious colossus. This reaction served to contribute to the growing anti-Semitism and Paganism of the period.
THE LATE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Guido (von) List, who devised the Armanen runes during a period of eleven months' enforced blindness, following an eye operation in 1902, had been interested in the glorious Pagan past for most of his life. On 24th June 1875 he and four friends celebrated a "fraternal feast" in honour of the summer solstice in the ruins of the Roman town of Carnutem on the banks of the Danube. Neither the location nor the date were coincidental, for this was the 1500th anniversary of a tribal German victory against Rome. Before they finished they performed a ritual in which the sun (the Thulian/ Hyperborean Apollo), described as "Baldur incarnate", was adored. The rite ended with eight (empty) wine bottles being buried, having been laid in the ground in the form of a swastika, beneath the surviving arch of Carnutem's Pagan Gate. List is available to modern readers in a translation by Stephen Flowers, and anyone reading him must be aware that an exaggerated admiration for the Germani as described by Tacitus undermined much of his thinking. Guido's Armanen Orden, Thule inspired, attempted to rehabilitate the inexplicable writings of past (Armanen-claimed) masters such as Paracelsus and Jacob Bohme by insisting they were written in a code which was only accessible to Armanen initiates.
In 1894 Lanz von Liebenfels founded the Order of New Templars, which in 1907 acquired for a temple the castle at Werfenstein which overlooked the Danube. Its consecration was marked by the hoisting of a flag, bearing a red swastika and four blue lilies on a gold field, on the semi-ruined ramparts. August Strindberg was said to have been amongst the white-robed initiates who performed Lanz's "Grail Ceremonies" there, and correspondence between them is preserved in the Strindberg Museum in Stockholm. Lanz is known to have met the young Adolf Hitler in 1909, when Hitler was only 20, and presented him with two copies of the Order’s racially-orientated magazine “Ostara”.
The Grail reference has been picked up by several writers, notably Ravenscroft in "The Spear of Destiny". In Goethe's "Ballad of the King of Thule" it is the king's cup which represents the Grail, a magical emblem evoking the vanished motherland. When he throws it into the
From the cup as its symbol it is easy enough to progress to the centre of this potent radiation, the place where heaven and earth meet, which is the mythical (and mystical) Thule itself. It is the place of otherness, revered by both the Celts and the Germani as a veritable Eden. Those who quest for belief, knowledge, virtually anything, often regard themselves as chosen in their quest, be they searching for the paradox of spiritual reality or the more gross twentieth century reality of domination based upon either material or market forces. We should not forget that "chosen people", including Thulians, will often tend towards a singular viewpoint. The Hebrews are the most obvious example of a "chosen" people, and this could well be taken by the unsympathetic to demonstrate that Joshua, war-chief of the Old Testament, as well as Atilla the Hun, may in this respect be regarded as a precursor of Adolf Hitler.
The sword is one of the archetypal symbols of power. As an incidental to the mention of Atilla above there is a legend to the effect that the Norse god Tyr's sword, forged by the same dwarfs who also made Odin's spear, was lost by his descendants and passed through various hands. It had the reputation of securing victory for whoever possessed it, including the Roman Emperor Vitellius, and eventually it came into the hands of Atilla. No historian would be rash enough to either credit veracity to the legend or Atilla's victories to the sword, but the power and influence of symbols is a theme which will require continuing examination (see Chapter 13).
About 1913 the German Belief Fellowship was born as the result of two earlier organisations amalgamating. These were the Wotan Society and the Community for Germanic Beliefs. Led by a Professor Fahrenkrog the members of this new society celebrated festivals dedicated, amongst other things, to the celebration of the power of Thor's hammer, Mjollnir, as much a god's weapon as Tyr's sword. They also held Nordic weddings, baptisms and funerals. The baptisms included the Pagan sprinkling with water, during which the child was told to "make all that is not German alien to you".
Before, during and after the Great War Thule infiltrated German politics via influential patrons of its perceived doctrines within society. During the dying days of the Soviet republic in Bavaria, whilst the rightist column of the Freikorps was fighting its way towards Munich in 1919, Leviné-Nissen and two other Jews in the Communist government instituted a "red terror". During this sailors arrested seven members of the aristocratic élite which formed the committee of the Thule Gesellschaft on the charge of being counter-revolutionaries. Included amongst these was its young and lovely secretary, Countess Heila von Westharp, and Prince Gustav von Thurn und Taxis. Two other titled members were with them when they were stood against a wall in the Luitpold High School and executed by firing squad.
If local history had stood still, or even accelerated, seconds earlier the world might have faced a very different future. Within sound of those gunshots and narrowly escaping execution himself, Adolf Hitler was himself a prisoner in the Max Gymnasium, watching fellow prisoners being taken to their deaths and awaiting his own turn. Yet virtually within hours Freikorps units singing ..."Swastika on helmet, colours black, white, red..." stormed into Munich and might have saved the seven hostages. As it was their spilled blood painted the plan for future terrors on that playground. The Thule Gesellschaft had been founded during the Nineteenth Century, but towards the end
of the Great War it was taken over by the son of a railway engineer, Adam Rudolf Glauer, who was better known as "Baron" Rudolf von Sebottendorf. In view of the current neo-Nazi activity against immigrant workers, mostly Turks, in Germany today (1993), it may be worth remarking that Glauer at one point took Turkish citizenship.
Outwardly the Thule Gesellschaft was a literary club, but it is now regarded as having been a secret political society practising anti-Semitism. It occupied several floors of the Hotel Vierjahreszeiten (Four Seasons), with accommodation available for around 300 guests and members, and its meetings were usually held on Saturdays, the day of the week named after Cronus. Certainly one of its objectives was to show that Thule was the lost Northern Atlantis from which the racially-superior Teutonic peoples originated. The society’s symbol was a swastika with curved arms emanating solar rays in the background, and a Nordic-style dagger enclosed in oak leaves in the foreground. It took its name directly from Ultima Thule.
The famous "Sieg Heil" cry was first instituted for use by Thule Gesellschaft members by von Sebottendorf. "Heil" had previously been a colloquial Austrian "good morning" or "hello there", but its joining with "Sieg", meaning glory or victory, added a new potency. This is demonstrable by the way that "Heil Hitler" became a NSDAP salute after the abortive Munich Putsch in November 1923. Its previous translation of "hello there, Hitler" would hardly have been deemed respectful. Yet "heil" also relates to the sun god Helios, later identified with Apollo, and has in turn been associated with the heel stone at Stonehenge.
The Thule Gesellschaft, which according to one writer had a membership in excess of 1500 by the beginning of 1918, together with its guest list, contained some significant names. Anton Drexler, original leader of the party which became the NSDAP, was a Thule member. So were Ernst Röhm, leader of the SA (SturmAbteilung, or storm-troopers, also known as the "brownshirts"), and Julius Streicher, Gauleiter of Franconia. Both Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi "philosopher", and Hitler's one time deputy and cell-block intimate in Landsberg Prison, Rudolf Hess, are alleged to have been members. The same is the case for Bernhard Kohler, later editor of the Nazi newspaper Volkischer Beobachter, Walther Darré, later Nazi Minister for Agriculture, and Fra Bernhard Stemphle, who fielded Catholic opposition to the Nazis in Bavaria. It cannot be stated definitely that Hitler was ever a member himself, but Pauwels and Bergier relate that he first met Rosenberg and Dietrich Eckardt (later to become one of the seven founding members of the National Socialist party) in Wagner's house at Beyreuth in 1920. Hitler was certainly well aware of the Hotel Vierjahreszeiten and entertained Eva Braun there on at least one occasion in 1935.
Thule Gesellschaft members were said to have penetrated the government just after the Great War. Certainly it had a propensity for assembling arms caches and had strong links to the Freikorps, later to be transmuted under National Socialism into the stormtroopers, which may help to explain why the troops who entered Munich the day after the executions instituted a "white terror" which was much worse than the red one had been. Pauwels and Bergier tie the Thule Gesellschaft to the "Final Solution" (Endlösung), a phrase first believed used by Goering to Himmler’s deputy Heydrich on 31st July 1941, by claiming that the members performed human sacrifice, and there could only have been magical reasons for the extermination of three quarters of a million gypsies. The fact is that the Thule Gesellschaft, or what remained of it after the Munich executions, should have been proscribed like other "occult" orders when the Nazis came to power, even though its initiates, like those of the later SS, were described as real men with their energies directed towards
changing human life. Yet one authority, if not others, claims that it was still a powerful secret society in 1934, with its name proscribed from both public knowledge and that of candidates for admission before their acceptance.
After the deaths of the hostages von Sebottendorf was criticized for allowing membership lists to fall into Jewish/Communist hands. He denied the fault, but retired from Munich and returned to Istanbul. From there he made his way to Mexico. When he returned to Germany during the 30s he became immediately unpopular by attempting to remind the Nazi leadership, by way of unequivocal statements in his book "Bevor Hitler Kam" (Before Hitler Came) that the Führer owed his rise to Thule. The early part the Thule Gesellschaft had played in the founding of the Nazi party was by then well past and suppressed, and von Sebottendorf was briefly interned in 1934. Released, he played a minor intelligence role abroad and eventually committed suicide on hearing of Germany's ultimate defeat in 1945.
Other similar societies influenced Germany between the wars. The Freunden von Lucifer, Germanen Orden and the Vril Society (named after the power postulated in Bulwer Lytton's book "The Coming Race"), and even the Ahnenerbe itself, which in those days was an organization independent of governmental control, were prominent among them. In addition to the practices of the earlier Bavarian Illuminati, themselves derived from Thulian concepts, sexual energy, atmospheric ionization, geometry and sound modulations became included. All of these have patent historical ritual precedents reaching back into the prehistoric Northlands.
Perverted forms of Thulian teaching attracted and influenced the young Hitler. Later his intimates also came under its spell and, whilst some of them rejected the power of Thule as it was presented to them, preferring to believe in the might of German armour and ordinance, others like Hess and Himmler made the perceived Thule their inspiration.
The swastika was adopted as the party symbol in the early Summer of 1920. Almost exactly five years later, when the first edition of "Mein Kampf" was published on 19th July 1925, Hitler acknowledged the work of the dentist Friedrich Krohn, himself an attendant at Thule Gesellschaft meetings and possessed of an occult library of over 2000 books, who had produced a flag which only differed from his own in that the arms of the swastika were curved like those of the emblem of the Thule Gesellschaft.
Interestingly it was in 1920 that Hitler met Dietrich Eckart, who would then have been about fifty. Eckart was a large, bald-headed man, described as both jocular and bad-tempered, who enjoyed life and was deeply in love with himself. The paradox continued with his pretensions to culture contrasting with his broad Bavarian dialect. Yet it was Eckart who introduced the young Hitler to society as a saviour of the Germanic peoples and is said to have initiated him into the Thule Gesellschaft in 1922. Whilst it is possible he was not himself a member he most certainly was acquainted with several individuals in the hierarchy. "Follow Hitler," he once said. "He will dance, though it is I who calls the tune. We have given him the means of communicating with Them..." There is no explanation as to who "them" might have referred to, but a Thulian initiate must be in contact with the ancestral powers if not with the actual Boreades (see Chapter 8) themselves. Eckart also described Hitler, appropriately in view of the judgement of history, as a "superb myth-maker". After his election as Chancellor in 1933 both Hitler and President Hindenburg signed a
decree that the swastika banner would henceforth fly beside the Imperial German flag. This led to a rash of new flags, each bearing the swastika, being designed for every government department and officially recognized organization. One biographer, tracing most of these designs to Hitler's own hand, postulates a probable fascination with the theme of a whitecircled black swastika on a red field.
The symbolism of the colours is important, whether or not cynics choose to trace them back to the Imperial German flag with its Thulian eagle. The primary colours mixed together, as modern physics has shown, form both Black and White. Yet both Black and White, whilst physically a part of, are outside the natural spectrum and might therefore be perceived as synthetic or unnatural. The shedding of blood via injury or killing, now that man has officially evolved away from hunter-gatherer society, has also come to be regarded as unnatural. Menstrual blood, though shed naturally, has so many taboos associated with it as a result of man's ignorance that it should not be excluded.
Hitler's own explanation, tying the colours to National Socialism, was that the red represented the social aspects of the movement, and the white its nationalistic ideals. The swastika itself symbolized "…the mission to struggle for the victory of Aryan man, and at the same time the victory of the idea of creative work..." which he continued to describe as anti-Semitic. It is hard to regard as coincidental the facts that the swastika, a Thulian emblem, was described in 1891 by Ernest Krauss as an exclusively Aryan symbol, and that later, in 1908, Guido (von) List described it as both a symbol of racial purity and a sign of esoteric knowledge revealed by his decipherment of the Elder Edda.
Hitler's personal standard showed the swastika in a wreath of gold oak-leaves and had four golden eagles bearing golden swastikas at the corners. Fig.1: The eagle, the laurel wreath and the swastika, all Thulian symbols, combine in
Perversions of Thulian racial doctrines began to predominate, contributing to the onset of the Holocaust, whether or not the influence of the Thule Gesellschaft on the slaughter of the Gypsies is credited or not. Alfred Rosenberg believed that in order to rule the world it was sufficient to have pure blood, and the Holocaust was most certainly conducted to eradicate the "untermenschen", or perceived lesser beings. To quote Hitler once again: "They (Jews) are as far removed from us as animals are from humans. I do not mean that I look on Jews as animals: they are much further removed from animals than we are. Therefore it is not a crime against humanity to exterminate them, since they do not belong to humanity. They are creatures outside nature."
Having mentioned this cynical twaddle, so typical of the perverse Thulianism of Hitler, it is difficult to keep the concept of race out of any examination of Thulian doctrine. In 1942 three SS mountaineers climbed to the summit of Mount Elbruz in the Caucasus range, the sacred mountain of the Aryan race, and set atop it a swastika flag blessed according to SS rites. "Caucasian" is a description of racial type used by American police officers today. The Thulians were regarded as the "Great White Ancestors", even by the red-skinned Mayas, and are believed to have been an élite culture, even amongst the white races. Alfred Rosenberg wrote of Thulian warriors conquering lands in the Mediterranean, Africa and even China. Wirth has them cross-breeding with lesser peoples to produce both the modern Nordic and American Indian races of today. Yet not a single material artefact undeniably belonging to the Thulian ancestors is known to have been found.
If we examine the historical attitude of those blond, Nordic beasts and (outwardly) archetypal Nazi supermen, the Vikings, we discover that Frey, Thor, Freya and the other deities all had their adherents, and there was open religious toleration as well in those good old days. You could be a Christian follower, Celtic follower, even an atheist or agnostic, without any fear of persecution, discrimination or proselytization. You could be black (albeit an acknowledged rarity for the time and place), white or even red (though you risked being labelled "skraeling" -wretch - in the sagas if you were, especially that of Erik the Red!). There were no fundamentalists who were right where everyone else was wrong and you were more free to believe in your own thing than many on the face of this planet today.
Himmler was promoted to Reichsfuhrer SS in 1929, over four years before it actually replaced the SA (brownshirts) as the Nazi élite during the notorious "Night of the Long Knives" (which paradoxically began at 6.00 am on 30th June 1934 and lasted until the morning of 2nd July). Sixteen days later the SS became, by order of the Führer, an independent organization within the framework of the Nazi party. Its ideals were that it should constitute an élite Nordic order with members as loyal as the initiates of freemasonry, as brave as the historically-lauded Teutonic Knights (one of the few orders to persist throughout the Nazi era, right down to the liberation of Paris) and as dedicated in idealism as the (infamous) Jesuits. The Death's Head SS was a negative Thulian magical order. Its insignia and rites were obviously borrowed from runic beliefs and other fragments of the surviving doctrine. Candidates for membership were required to satisfy both physical and racial requirements
and undergo a novitiate before becoming accepted and swearing a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler. Another period, involving armed forces and labour service, followed before presentation of the SS dagger and full acceptance. An ongoing obligation was to take part in Himmler's neo-Pagan SS religious services.
LaVey states that the "Die Elektrischen Vorspiele" ritual, which involves both flashing neon lights and sound oscillations, was performed by the SS between 1932 and 1935 with Nazi banners forming an integral part of the décor. Both this author and Pauwels and Bergier add details on "L'Air Épais", an anti-Christian ceremony tracing back to the Knights Templar and beyond, now reserved for the worthy as a celebration of the symbolism of death designed to accrue power to the living. AMT VII, the Deutsches Ahnenerbe or "German Ancestral Heritage Office", began life as an independent society of racist occultists but was later incorporated into the SS. One opinion is that it represented the theological aspect of the Nazi version of Thulianism, as opposed to the "warrior monks" (Greek "monos" - alone) of the SS who embodied its mystical (!) aspect.
The Ahnenerbe divided German citizens into five classifications: Pure Nordic; Largely Nordic; Nordic racial bastards ("bastard" in the sense of being of mixed stock); Eastern and Alpine bastards and non-European bastards. From the end of 1935 all SS "other ranks" were required to provide a Semite-free family tree going back to 1900. For officers it was required to extend back as far as 1750. Prior to 1942 only the first three racial classifications were officially allowed SS membership.
It is a known fact that the year before the first racial qualifications were introduced, in 1934, Himmler became interested in many of the ideas expressed by Hermann Wirth, whose exploration of ancient symbolism had caused him to believe in the existence of the sunken Atlantis, believed to have been destroyed by an earthquake, which was situated in the Northern ocean and which he called Thule.
The Greek belief, as promulgated by Plato, regarded Atlantis as a large island in the Atlantic Ocean west of the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar). It was the centre of an ancient and advanced civilization and was supposed to have been destroyed by an earthquake. Plato retells a story told by Egyptian priests 200 years earlier, describing Atlantis as a powerful island empire which sought to dominate the Mediterranean world (almost Nazi-fashion) more than 9,000 years before (i.e. around 9,600 BC). Their expansionist ("lebensraum") plans were thwarted by the Athenians and, shortly afterwards, an earthquake struck the homeland and caused Atlantis to sink beneath the ocean. Significantly, in view of the politics of Himmler's place and time, Plato characterises Atlantis as possessing an ideal political system.
Himmler's interest in occult matters was revealed again in 1936, when he expressed his views on reincarnation to high ranking SS officers in a speech delivered at Dachau. He informed them that they had all known one another in a previous life, and that they would all be reunited once their existing time on earth was ended.
Himmler believed himself to be the reincarnation of the German monarch Henry the Birdcatcher, who lived from 875 to 936. He followed a school of thought which held that each man was reincarnated in the body of one of his descendants. He also adapted the rites of the German Belief Fellowship for his SS festivals, amongst which the Summer Solstice was made the principal point of the calendar to replace Christmas, and Christian sacraments of marriage, baptism and funeral were also replaced. As with the Thulian Germani of Tacitus,
the local SS leader became the priest of the state. Himmler is further said to have described the idea of Christian marriage as "satanic". Bearing in mind the adversarial nature of some marital relationships, and the original meaning of the name Satan in Hebrew ("the adversary") some cynics might have been permitted a wry smile upon hearing this.
The centre of Himmler's Thulian-inspired Paganism was at Schloss Wewelsburg, near the small town of Thule (?) close to Paderborn in Westphalia. Between 1934 and 1945 he spent over 13 million marks on its restoration, transforming it into both a magical seat and a fortress which would withstand any barbarian invasion from the East. Its rooms were dedicated to Germanic heroes. That named for the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was reserved for Hitler, who never actually visited Wewelsburg and thus gave life to the belief that he intended eventually to be buried there. The centre of Wewelsburg was the banqueting hall, used for conferences and meditations to strengthen the participants' ties with the racial soul. Other order castles (the "Ordensburgen") were situated at Krösinsee in Pomerania, Vogelsang in the Eifel, Sonthofen in Allgau and Marienburg. Here continuing indoctrination of the SS élite took place, with its teaching that Hyperborea and its capital city, Thule, was the cradle of the white race, and that the Jews were objects of hatred for having usurped the epithet of "the chosen people" from the Aryans.
Candidates were admitted to the ordensburgen at 25. Their training there covered four years and was spent in each of the burgs in turn. A year at Krösinsee catered for elementary scientific instruction, gliding, athletics and swimming sports. Vogelsang, where the second year was spent, was intended eventually to have the largest sports stadium in the world. Sonthofen was dedicated by Hitler on Saturday 23rd November 1937, and here, for eighteen months, winter sports came second only to the candidate's ideological formation. Marienburg was where the last six months were spent, in the East, on "the historic soil of German colonization".
It was at Wewelsburg, however, that Nazi neo-paganism reached its greatest flowering. Here, in a crypt with walls five feet thick beneath the banqueting hall, Himmler set up his round table/altar, in the fashion of a latter-day King Arthur, and 12 stone slabs, each bearing the emblem of an SS senior officer. Should the officer die his emblem would be burned upon the altar, the ascending smoke symbolizing his departure from this life to that awaiting him in Valhalla. Never more than 12 plus Himmler himself were permitted to seat themselves at any one time, creating a magical 13 in either conscious or unconscious emulation of both the Last Supper and the 12 signs of the Zodiac plus the sun (Apollo - and this despite the fact that Apollo's temple at Delphi bore the two maxims "Know thyself" and "Nothing to excess"!).
Certain aspects of the Nuremberg rallies, held in a stadium Pennick describes as "geomantically-designed", paralleled techniques of Viking sorcery outlawed after the adoption of Christianity. Both Hitler and Himmler were the shamans of the emerging and perverted Thulian social order, presiding in the same way as Tacitus' "priest of the state" and uttering their oracles to the assembled faithful. Hitler delighted in ceremony, and above the speaker's rostrum at Nuremberg hung a 60 feet high metal eagle clutching a sword in its enormous talons. If we further recall that one of the more important features of Norse magic was control of the weather, it becomes significant that people used to speak of "Hitler's weather", the bright, sunny days which always seemed to accompany his ceremonial parades.
merely a disguise to camouflage the hidden strength of Thule. Yet the concept of "secret sciences", be they occult ("hidden") or other, persisted. Walter Darré, Hitler's Minister of Agriculture, is on record as having said: "It is not until knowledge recovers its character of secret science and is no longer available to all, that it can again exercise its normal function, the means of ruling human and non-human nature."
Hitler's defeat and death in the Berlin bunker in 1945 did not mean the end of Thulian influence. It still survives today, half a century on. It is rising again in the shape of works like this one, in the writings of occult runology and in the forces which seek to preserve and reinforce true democracy (that well-known Apollonian/Greek concept), and it is a force which we have to recognize and assess if its true purpose is to be revealed. It would not be surprising if some readers found several of the above statements both unpalatable and incredible. Yet it would be a mistake to reject them simply because they are uncomfortable. Those who reject what they do not want to believe delude themselves as much as any Nazi ever did. Atlantis is comfortably mysterious: if it ever existed it is now gone for ever. But the same cannot be said for the Atlantis of the Northern world. Thulian doctrines still exist, independent of any vanished physical place, and await recognition. The submergence of Thule was not of the waters but of the blood, and it is no accident that the Greeks believed the wisdom of a man or god was centred in the blood. With this fact appreciated, sooner or later, its adepts will awaken Thule once more.
The general perception is that the Thule of myth and magic has been defeated once this century, that the defeat of the thousand year Third Reich was the defeat of Thule as well. But this was simply a manifestation of unbalanced aspects taken at random from the totality of Thulian doctrine, and the Nazi Thule was the reverse of a coin which has still to reveal its obverse for our inspection. Thule remains with us today, and is triumphing in a quiet, unsuspected way which few yet realize.
The name of Thule is still remembered in the mundane world in many ways. Thule is the name given to a U.S. naval base to the West of Greenland which was established by Knud Rasmussen in 1910. It is perhaps appropriate that this name was chosen by an explorer, Rasmussen having been the first to try to visit every known Eskimo group and to make the first crossing of the North-West passage by dogsled (1921-1924). In modern scientific terms the name takes its place amongst the elements. Thulium, chemical symbol Tm, atomic weight 168.93, is a metallic element belonging to the rare earths which is present in euxenite, a brownish-black mineral containing radioactive substances which has been found in Norway. Thulite, also known as zoisite, is a silicate of aluminium and calcium found in Northern Scandinavia. When considering the geographical locations the ascription of these names can hardly be coincidental. Paradoxically the Thule postulated by Hermann Wirth as flourishing from 25 000 - 12 000 BC was only possessed of a non-metallic culture, whilst it is an undeniable fact that the predominantly white cultures of the world - French, English, Germanic, Russian and American - are the ones which have most developed the metallic aspects of modern civilization, including synthetic materials and the conquest and utilization of the atom.
In the examination of Thule and Hyperborea which follows we shall use very little of the Nazi material for the simple reason that it must be considered as suspect. The "blood and iron" mentality of Germany after its defeat in the First World War made the perversion of basic Thulian teachings inevitable, introducing as it did the need for a racial scapegoat to save
With Germany allied to Japan the Second World War became a conflict of religions as much as one of countries. Japan's main religions were Shintoism and Buddhism, and the Empire was alleged to stretch back in an unbroken line from Hirohito to its founder, Jimmu Tennu, in 660 BC. The Imperial line was considered possessed of divinity, in much the same fashion as the British “Divine Right of Kings” persisted until Charles I (executed 1649). In Japan's case the divinity of the Emperor was maintained until a new constitution was brought into force in May 1947.
Whilst the Germans boasted neither god-kings nor an unbroken succession from a time before their history began to be recorded, similar ideas obtained. The Kaisers (from the same root as the Latin "Caesar") were direct descendants of the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire founded by Charlemagne with the pope's blessing in AD 800. "Holy" was added by Frederick Barbarossa in 1156 and from then on the Empire was a purely German institution. It endured until 1806 when its fall was brought about by an inability to withstand Napoleonic France.
Being the "Holy" Roman Empire it naturally espoused Christianity. But many of the Emperors were rebels, with Maximilian I for example (died 1519) hiding and defending Martin Luther from the Papacy and patronizing several patently pagan works of art and music. Germany has never forgotten, nor should it, that its earliest heroes, such as that Arminius who scored such a notable victory over the Romans at the Teutonbergerwald, were pagans, and historical accounts of the pageantry of pagan Imperial Rome lay behind the glorious reconstructed spectacle of Nazi ceremonial.
Against these two stood the might of Christian America and the British Empire, whose Emperor was also head of the church in the person of King George VI (born 1895, ruled from 1936 untul his death in 1952). The USSR had officially excommunicated God after the 1917 revolution, but the Russian Orthodox Church was still alive and praying for victory throughout the Second World War.
It is tempting to regard the Third Reich as essentially pagan, and to postulate that the Last Crusade was actually that of the crucifix against the swastika. Certainly the Catholic church perceived it as such. Hitler's visit to Rome in the spring of 1938 was deliberately not reported in the Vatican press, and Pope Pius XI said at the time: "...on the feast-day of the Holy Cross there is openly borne the badge of another cross, which is not the Cross of Christ."
Believing something to be pagan is not the same as proving it to be, despite the frenzied efforts of many modern fundamentalists who believe a simple declaration ("Tarot cards and rabbits' feet are the work of the Devil") sufficient to make a point. And at the end of the day what is wrong with being pagan? The (Church of England) State religion of the British Isles regards anyone not adhering to it as pagan, and that is a very high proportion of the population. As it is a State religion should these recalcitrant individuals and their families not be forced into line with appropriate and punitive State measures?
If this doesn't sound ridiculous to you then you should have been living in Germany half a century ago. The paganism of the Third Reich is demonstrable from surviving evidence, despite the nature of that paganism contravening previously established norms (unless you
count the USSR) by setting the State in place of the Faith and the head of state in place of the godhead. Julius Streicher, Gauleiter of Franconia and previously noticed as a Thule Gesellschaft adherent, voiced a direct comparison between Hitler and Christ at Munich University on 26th July 1935: "It is only on one or two exceptional points that Christ and Hitler stand comparison," he conceded, "for Hitler is far too big a man to be compared with one so petty."
Neither is this the only example. During the same Reich Education Conference in which the above statement was made a Dr Schwarz of Darmstadt declared: "Christians can never feel that they are true followers of the Führer. They always feel that they are in a morass of sin, which can bring forth nothing but marsh-flowers. National Socialism stands on a moral plane far above the ethics of Jesus. We do not want to sink back into Christianity, but to soar far above it." We shall eventually see that the rejection of "original sin" is actually a Thulian doctrine.
Before the Nazis actually took power in the 1933 elections any tendencies towards neopaganism were, naturally, unable to undertake their fullest development and evolution. But with power achieved it was an easy matter to rectify this situation. Religious denominations began to be perceived as rivals to, and therefore enemies of, the Party, and whilst Christianity per se continued to be tolerated it was of a bland, pan-denominational nature.
"On no account must the National Socialist ideological structure be imperceptibly falsified by denominational ideas," said Reichsminister Frank in October 1937. A month later this was both strengthened and darkened by Reichsminister Rust, speaking in Berlin: "The idea of `race' gives us an insight into the very relative importance of the denominations."
The Catholic Church began to feel the threat as early as Summer 1934, when Bishop Kaller of Ermland denounced currents of opinion aimed at setting up a new German national religion based upon the myths of blood and race. Later that year, on 28th October, Bishop Bornewasser of Trier spoke of the "tremendous dangers...from the neo-pagan movement in Germany."
On New Year's Eve Bishop Wilhelm Berning of Osnabrück misread the situation dreadfully in his sermon: "Our Faith is not built on sagas and myths," he said, obviously possessing an unshakable belief in the Bible as a historical text, "but on the infallible revelation of God." This was an unwise beginning, bearing in mind the extent to which the Nazis had already drawn upon medieval German and Norse literature to create the romantic popular impetus which had swelled their tiny party into a government. And it was an unwise continuation to add: "What then can it mean when a war of extermination is undertaken against this Christian Faith in God, when it is sought to tear it out of the hearts of the young in order to substitute for it a new, a Germanic belief in God?"
The Nazis were very good at wars of extermination, with violence always ready to back up flagging ideology if necessary. Berning's reference to the hearts of the young related to the suppression of Catholic Youth organizations to the benefit of the Hitlerjugend. Naturally the Hitler Youth was in no mood to compete and neither, in 1930s Germany, did it have to. A series of progressively more repressive measures made membership of anything else both undesirable and hazardous to a child's future.
Membership of the Hitler Youth, sometimes from the earliest age possible, became an essential qualification for both further education and employment in many sectors. Rudolf Hess, in a communication dated August 1935, wrote: "Those who...refuse to grant their children's wish to join the Hitler Youth show a lack of responsibility and are to be considered as enemies of the National Socialist state and its Führer. The Führer and his assistants alone, and not some religious corporation, have to answer to God for earthly destinies..."
Whilst the above material demonstrates the antithetical stance taken towards Christianity it is not, in itself, demonstrative of neo-paganism in the Third Reich. One blatant example here will be backed with others later.
The following occurred on 2nd July 1938. Himmler's belief that he was the reincarnation of King Henry the Bird-Catcher led him to keep annual vigil beside the king's tomb in the crypt of Quedlinburg Cathedral. He was photographed there, together with his deputy, Reinhard Heydrich, and other SS luminaries, on at least one occasion. Having placed a wreath of oak leaves in the tomb he ascended the Castle hill between two rows of pylons decorated with the victory runes of the SS. From huge bowls fire danced up into the night. SS-men, guns in hand, stood with helmeted heads bowed as Himmler recalled, "in simple words", the memory of the dead king.
National Socialism literally became a State faith, with Christian usage being replaced wherever possible with State alternatives, often backed by legislation. The seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church - Baptism, Confirmation, Communion, Ordination, Marriage, Penance and Extreme Unction - whilst recognized by Protestants, are usually reduced to the two essentials of Baptism and Communion. The neo-paganism of Nazi Germany replaced these religious sacraments with State ceremonies in the same way that the Party leaders became the "Apostles" of the Führer, Nuremberg was the "shrine and place of pilgrimage" of the movement, "Mein Kampf" was the movement's "Bible" and Rosenberg's "Myth of the Twentieth Century" its philosophy. At least one Nazi publication in 1939 was urging the replacement of wayside crucifixes with "eagle-trees".
Baptism became "Solemn Conferring of the Name" and was performed by a Party official. The infant was addressed with phrases such as: "God is only in pure blood" and "Listen to the voice of your ancestors that whispers in your soul" before being informed that his or her people were unique and holy. The name was then bestowed an d the parents and child exhorted: "Everything for Germany!" This ceremony legally replaced Baptism in Austria on 1st January 1939. From September 1935 onwards the secular marriage ceremony took on a distinctly neo-pagan flavour. One performed in the Hall of Ordensburg Vogelsang during Spring 1937 was as follows: The bride's and groom's parties sat facing each other across the hall. Fanfares, drums and marches heralded the standard-bearers escorted by guards who marched through into the adjoining "Room of Honour". The civil ceremony was conducted before rings were exchanged in the presence of the Ordensburg's commander as representative of the Führer. As the ceremony ended the standards were escorted out of the hall and the marriage procession followed.
SS magazine) issue 25, 18th August 1935 states: "German men and women who have done their duty as members of the national community and died an honourable death have a right to demand that we...should be allowed to bid them farewell in the manner in which they deserve...Since we have elevated civil marriage from the plane of a mere official act to that of a solemn celebration, why should we not have a civil burial too?"
A permanent rite for National Socialist celebrations was actually established in a circular published on instructions from the Reichspropagandaleitung. Its principal constituents were to be the Verkündung, or Announcement, a solemn but poetic address of around a quarter of an hour in length; the Bekenntnis or Confession of Faith, recited by the congregation and, before a final Seig Heil!, the Lied der Verpflichtung or Hymn of Duty, sung by all present.
The burning of works by "undesirable" authors is one of the popular icons of the Third Reich, perpetuated by Hollywood in such films as "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", yet the purposes behind such demonstrations remain largely unexplored. This is because they embrace a variety of motives. Both demonstrations and events in Nazi Germany were rarely spontaneous, as witness the fortuitous burning of the Reichstag and the planned barbarity of Kristallnacht. If the Party required them they were made available. The burning of books symbolizes both the destruction of the physical work and the rejection of whatever ideas or ideals it seeks to present. It is also a symbol of the trial and execution of the author, in absentia.
Burning has a great horror for man. Even the tiniest burn inflicts disproportionate pain when compared with a graze or even a cut. A major wound will sometimes create its own anaesthesia, but a burn rarely does. Death by burning was the Church's decreed fate for heretics and witches, though these wretches were usually handed over to the secular authorities for sentence to be carried out. The "Auto da Fé" (act of faith) of the Most Holy and Catholic Inquisition involved the public burning of already tortured and humiliated human beings, and the book-burnings of Nazi Germany offer a distinct parallel. The power of the book is legendary. Take the Bible as an example. And it was a book, or rather two books, which made the Third Reich possible. The first was Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf". The second, less well-known today but equally influential in its time, was "The Myth of the Twentieth Century" by Alfred Rosenberg. Rosenberg was hailed as the "philosopher" of the Nazi party, and at the 1937 Nuremberg Party Congress he received the first ever State Prize for Art and Science. As Hitler's Deputy for the Ideological Instruction of the Party he was regarded as sufficiently dangerous to require Nuremberg trial followed by execution in 1946.
To attempt to read "The Myth..." today, assuming you can find a copy, though an English translation has been published since the end of the Second World War, is much the same as attempting to derive any actual insight into Hitler's mind from reading "Mein Kampf". Both have their notorious passages, usually discovered by checking for the dirtiest page-edge in library copies in much the same way as schoolboys used to seek out the dirty words in "Lady Chatterley's Lover". The problem is that both are irrelevant for the modern reader.
and most probably completed by 1923. It had to wait until 1930 for publication, however. But when it was published it was both wanted and needed by the burgeoning Nazis. It was also thoroughly under-estimated by their opponents.
Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich, a major Catholic opponent of the Third Reich, remained convinced that the nation would never accept Rosenberg's book in place of the Gospels because it would be like taking a stone instead of bread. What the Cardinal failed to understand was that "The Myth..." had more relevance for the times than the Gospels had, and that although Rosenberg might come second only to Hitler in the bestseller lists the book didn't actually need to be read. As with the early days of Christianity there were more than enough interpreters ready to tell the faithful what was in it, whether the actual words were there or not.
Certainly, as far as the Party was concerned, Rosenberg's book was one of the mighty texts. In February 1937 the "Bayerische Volkzeitung" reported that throughout the Reich the Hitler Youth was carrying on extensive leadership training. This was divided into four study circles which embraced Political Racial Biology, Political Economy, Strategic Geography and Foreign Policy, and Rosenberg's "Myth of the Twentieth Century".
"With a few trusty followers, of whom Alfred Rosenberg was one, Adolf Hitler took up the fight against the ever-increasing red tide," said Minister of State Adolf Wagner in June 1936. He continued by replacing the dead red tide (Communism) with the still hanging-on black international, clearly perceived as the Catholic priesthood. "We are very glad that it is precisely Rosenberg who has been given charge of the National Socialist ideology in the Party. The principles of National Socialism are the principles of the Reich...It is not our fault that in the two thousand years of Christianity's existence the great God preached by Christ has become a thousand little gods...As National Socialists we have no need to be told how to believe in God. We are the believers in God..."
The calendar is a potent propaganda weapon, dividing as it does the lives of men by work days and holidays ("holy-days"). A farmers' almanac for 1935, published by the Reich Agricultural Corporation under Reichsbauernführer Walter Darré, and bearing a facsimile of his signature beneath the preface, replaced several church festivals with pagan equivalents:
Date Church Replacement 6 January The Three Kings The Three Aesir 22 February St Peter's Chair Thor's Chair 6 March Ash Wednesday Ash Woden's Day 18 April Maundy Thursday Consecration of night-light oil 19 April Good Friday Remembrance of 4500 Saxons and 9 million others massacred by Charlemagne - fighters for the right, heroes of the faith, heretics and witches - murdered, tortured to death and burned at the stake 21 April Easter Sunday Ostara 30 May Ascension Day Rescue of Thor's Hammer 29 June SS Peter and Paul Half-year Feast of Tiu (Tyr) 25 July St James Thor and Sif 24 December Christmas Eve/Yule Birthday of Baldur God of Light & Visit of the Infant
For the most part the new festivals are blatant substitutions, both of date and symbolism. Yet there are pagan survivals which Darré could have drawn upon which could have been backed with convincing arguments.
If we examine surviving pagan festivals via the twin sources of Classical authors and traditional witchcraft, which as we shall see embodies many Thulian and Hyperborean principles, an entire calendar of pagan festivities arises. Each of these has at least one Christian parallel and, frequently, a Classical parallel also. Traditional witchcraft follows the same eightfold festival pattern which related to the Thulian concepts of direction and time. That the feasts were important dates across the cultures is evidenced by the way in which they have been Christianized and still survive, clustered around the Solstices, Equinoxes and "Eves", today:
= Eve of the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries 2nd February
= Spring Equinox
= Feast of St Benedict 25th March
= Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary 30th April
= Walpurgis Nacht = Feast of St Catherine of Siena 1st May
= Feasts of SS Philip and James [[[Wikipedia:apostles|apostles]]] 21st June
= Feast of St Aloysius Gonzaga 24th June
= Birthday of St John Baptist 31st July
= Feast of Zeus/Jupiter
= Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola 1st August
= Celtic Lugnassad = Lammas 21st September
= Autumn Equinox = Feast of Karpo [[[Wikipedia:Greek|Greek]] Goddess of Autumn
= Feast of St Matthew (apostle) 30th October
= Feast of Ares/Mars 31st October
= Vigil of All Saints, 1st November
= Celtic Samhain
= Feast of All Saints 11th November
24th December =
Christmas Eve =
Juvenalia 25th December =
Christmas Day =
Feast of Sol Invictus 26th December =
Feast of Cronus/Saturnus
Though the calendar has been revised on a minimum of two occasions since the original pagan inception of these feasts the Solstice and Equinox celebrations may be timed from observable phenomena, whatever the actual dates.
Santa Claus (St Nicholas) actually traces back to Odin, principal deity of the Pagan Northern pantheon, and there are a great many pagan elements in the Christian Christmas to this day. One only has to examine the text of popular songs such as the Coventry Carol or "Deck the Halls..." to discover their pagan origin, and other songs from other times of the year can still show the same bias. Certainly sacred trees used to be cut down by Christians to prevent "idolatry", as was the case with the Irminsul, not set up and decorated by them. Use of the Nativity to replace the Feast of Sol Invictus occurred for the first time in Rome in 354, on 25th December. In Germany it first occurred in 813, and was used to supplant the native midWinter feast. This was known as "Modraneght" (Anglo-Saxon) or "Yule" (Scandinavian), and the Three Magi were regarded as a result of Christian mysogenism changing the sex of the Norns, or fates.
In April 1938, after a visit to the Pope, Bishop Albert Stohr of Mainz was optimistic that the position of the Catholic Church in Germany, systematically eroded for almost a decade, was about to improve. How wrong he was. The printing of a Papal Encyclical resulted in the suppression of the Church press and the confiscation of a dozen Catholic printing presses. Priests were excluded from schools and the national Socialist teachers' magazine demanded of the clergy that the concepts of the Biblical Creation, Redemption and Original Sin be no longer promulgated.
Redemption, as an ideal to strive towards, naturally follows on from that of the Original Sin with which man is tainted and from which he needs to be redeemed. The Pelagian heresy taught at the university founded by Abaris (see Chapter 3) denied the concept of Original Sin. The Arian heresy, also taught at Stamford, denied Christ's divinity and questioned details of the Creation. It may, of course, only be a coincidence that the two Thulian heresies which forced the closure of the university surfaced again so exactly in the Third Reich.
In presenting the above material my objective has been to highlight ways in which the rise of Nazism took aspects of Thulian and Hyperborean doctrine and perverted them to its own ends. Calendars continue to be manipulated, with a British Labour Party May (Day) bank holiday becoming a Conservative Spring bank holiday as a recent and comparatively mild example.
Spurious philosophies continue to abound, and Christianity tenaciously, for the most part, clings to the Biblical creation, if now only as a metaphor for the difficult to dispute process of evolution, and the damning concept of Original Sin persists as an insidious method of mass control. Religion continues to provide motives for conflict, with "ethnic cleansing", so similar in tenor to "lebensraum" and "the final solution" being conducted between Serbian Moslems and Christians current at the time of writing. Sikhs and Hindus hold an uneasy peace in India. Catholic and Protestant butcher one another in Northern Ireland.
The time is ripe for the message of Thule to be heard by the world again. Thule embraced cultures as different in geographical spread as the frozen North and the sunny Mediterranean, and customs as dissimilar as those of Ancient Greece and Bronze-Age Scandinavia. If these, with their different pantheons and technologies, could both prosper and co-operate, why is it so difficult for modern man? After all, we are still learning how to live on this planet in anything approaching a spirit of harmonious cooperation. Perhaps it is true that we have forgotten more than we know. If it is, then the lessons of Ultima Thule are a part of that forgotten knowledge which is worth the effort of retrieving.
Pytheas of Marseilles - Sextus Sylla - Ogygia - Cronus/ Saturnus - Carthage - Demetrius - Tacitus - Was Thule Iceland? - The Migration from Thule "Tibi serviat ultima Thule." Virgil, "The Georgics" - 1, xxx.
The original mentions of both Thule and Hyperborea are buried in the half-mythic writings of various classical authors. A definition (or rather a short series of definitions) is a better point at which to begin looking for Thule than any map of the Northern Hemisphere, though at least one author will be noticed who portrayed Thule as a physical reality.
Ultima Thule is the furthest North of the Known World. It is also, with an immense figurative potency, anything which is almost beyond the bounds of human reason and imagination. Symbolically it is even more, being variously described as the primordial Hyperborean spiritual centre, the Island of the Blessed, Paradise, the White Island, the White Mountain, the Island of Jewels and even as the Arthurian/Grail tradition Isle of Avalon. Aristotle described it as "the point quiescent", and it has also been defined as the place where heaven and earth actually meet.
Ultima Thule is the end of the world, the point beyond which man cannot proceed. The phrase was coined by Virgil in "The Georgics" 1, 30: "Tibi serviat Ultima Thule" ("thee furthest Thule must obey"). The context behind this statement is that the heavenly powers, of which Pan, Silvanus, Minerva and, in this express context, Caesar as Emperor and God, have power over everything. Thus everything about this spiritual homeland of Northern Man (except its required political allegiance to Caesar) is remote and mysterious. The name itself is thought to derive from a Greek form of the Gothic word "tiel" or "tiule", meaning "the remotest land". Philologists may remark the unlikeliness of a Gothic word migrating to Greek, but this is how it was used by those classical writers who commented on Thule's existence.
The first recorded sighting of Thule was by a merchant named Pytheas, whose expedition had sailed out of the Greek colony in Marseilles. Pytheas lived sometime before Aristotle and his voyage is variously dated around 330 - 300 BC. Pytheas was dispatched by the rulers of the colony, who showed a greater initiative and daring than the reluctant Portuguese of Columbus' time, to seek out new countries with which trade links might be established. His voyage of discovery took him to the Northern end of the then-known world. Those fragments of his account which survive in the writings of later authors describe things which were totally new at the time to both himself and his countrymen. In fact, so new were many of the things in his account that they earned him the ridicule of later Greeks, Strabo amongst them, for the absurdity of his "lies".
Today, with the benefit of hindsight, we can recognize a great deal of truth in what Pytheas wrote of his experiences and discoveries. He visited the British Isles and tells of Britons describing to him a place which they called Thule. He was told that it lay six days' sail to the North (they just might have been lying or "pulling the leg" of a stranger) and that it was inhabited. Grain grew there but did not proliferate and tended to ripen badly. The nights were
unusually bright and lasted only two or three hours. The midnight sun was visible from Thule's shores. Whether or not Pytheas actually sailed to Thule remains unclear from the surviving texts. If he did then it may well have been with the help of British pilots. Beyond Thule he could not have gone because it was there that the air and sea and land all mingled and intermixed, forming what was contemporarily described as the "sluggish sea".
There are no other clues as to the location of Pytheas' Thule. The few surviving fragments of his work are unhelpful in determining its whereabouts. Various scholars have postulated their theories, resulting in a choice between the Shetland Isles, Iceland and some point on the coast of modern Norway. Some later writers, notably Procopius, use Thule as a generic term for Scandinavia, but this only serves to cloud the issue further. The most likely choice in view of this early evidence is Iceland, first settled historically by Irish Christian anchorites before its Viking "discovery" in AD 870. Thule was located in the same area as Iceland by every writer who later explored the subject, with notable examples being Pliny in the first century AD and the Gothic (!) historian Jordanes in the sixth.
Godfrey Higgins, author of at least two exceedingly strange books during the nineteenth century, suggested in "The Celtic Druids" that Pytheas actually reached Thule and sailed beyond it. The "sluggish sea" becomes, for Higgins, a sea of ice which barred the progress of the intrepid mariner. Higgins also hinted that Thulian doctrines were amongst the corpus of knowledge in the possession of the Pythagoreans, and that those august students of metaphysics were ridiculed by the later Greeks for their "ignorant credulity".
Whilst Pytheas of Marseilles is regarded as almost the discoverer of Ultima Thule, it is quite possible that he was not the first. The civilizations of earlier times were not as insular when it came to sea travel as might be supposed. The early Egyptians used the Mediterranean Sea. The Assyrians followed the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to the Persian Gulf, as well as travelling overland to the Mediterranean. The Minoans of Crete sent ships at least as far as Sicily before 1500 BC.
The Phoenicians established trading posts at Carthage and what is now Cadiz. They are also believed to have undertaken a three-year voyage round Africa, travelling from east to west, about 600 BC. The Carthaginians certainly sailed beyond the Pillars of Herakles and established trading posts on the West African coast. By 700BC the Greeks had penetrated the Black Sea and also sailed widely on the Mediterranean, establishing colonies in Libya, Sicily, and that Massilia (Marseilles), from which Pytheas eventually sailed.
The next reported sighting of the Island of Thule goes into much more detail and took place some 400 years later. In "The Face In The Moon" Plutarch (died c. AD 140) quotes one Sextus Sylla, a Carthaginian, who described an expedition from Britain to a shrine and college on an island five days' sail distant in the Atlantic. This is close to the time (six days) given by Pytheas, and might allow for advancing technology. Sylla's travellers set out from either the North or South of mainland Britain because they sail Westward and completely miss Ireland. For five days they sail West for around an optimistic but stated 500 miles, much of it through
a sea thick (sluggish?) with drifting ice and debris. This timing must be a little suspect. Even with modern innovations it can take at least four days to sail from Cowes in the Isle of Wight to a harbour near Birkenhead, close by Liverpool, involving only the circumnavigation of the Cornish and Welsh coasts, as I know to my (seasick) cost. The uncertainties of British coastal weather inevitably make voyages by sail, even those assisted by all the benefits modern technology has to offer the mariner, difficult to time. For this reason it is not impossible that the eventual landing was made at either a point on the British mainland or an offshore island, as well as some place further afield.
Two interesting facts relating to the expedition are brought out in the course of the narrative, both of which will be explored in greater detail later. The first is the precise astrological timing of the voyage, which embarked when the planet related to Cronus, namely Saturnus (Cronus being the Greek name for both Time and the planet/god Saturn), was in Taurus. The second fact is really an odd coincidence, and is that the island to which they were travelling is referred to not as Thule, but as Ogygia.
Ogygia was the island named long before by Homer as being ruled by Calypso, daughter of Atlas. It was she who promised Ulysses perpetual youth and immortality (both temporal considerations) if he would simply submit to her influence.
Sylla's account is not one that would have been received easily in his own time. To begin with there is a problem with identifying the Ogygia of Sextus Sylla with the one referred to in classical myth, as Homer's Ogygia is opposite the promontory of Lacinium in Magna Græcia. This location might have been six days' sail from Britain, but hardly in a direction describable as Westward and definitely not through a sea filled with ice floes.
Possibilities exist which may explain this discrepancy. Sylla could have transferred a known myth to a different location in creating his account of the expedition. Greek mythographers under Thulian influence might have learned the myth and assigned it to a familiar location. Or unusual weather conditions may have prevailed which created a false impression. Snow in June on the British mainland is not unheard of in living memory, and ice-flows could be found in a March sea to the West of the British Isles. The Romans initially regarded our homeland as the "Isles of the Dead" because they could not see how the living could cope with its unpredictable climate. Nor were they alone in using this appellation. Spence states that most of ancient Western and
Mediterranean Europe shared a belief that the land of the dead lay to the west, and that all culture and wisdom emanated from the same direction. He goes on to mention that there was a "well-founded memory of the former existence of a great religion in the Atlantic region, particularly in Irish myth, and that this had been erected into a paradise...". It is almost superfluous to remark that "paradise" is a term which has been applied to Thule. It is more likely that Sylla relocated his Ogygia, as the other details in his account do not appear in the story of Calypso. There is a slim possibility that he simply borrowed an existing name for the island in creating a fictional narrative, but if he was inventive enough to create the other parts of the account why should his invention fail him on this point? After all, the location of the Greek Ogygia would have been familiar enough to the vast majority of his readers, and a recognition of this would have defeated the credibility of his narrative.
Ogygia has been identified as having the same meaning as the name of the Pelasgian deity/ Titan Oceanus. The same source (Graves) identifies its ruler Calypso with the crow or raven, creating a link with both the Greek Cronus and the Celtic Bran. Just to further compound our problems there is other Celtic/Cronus links to explore, which are best done here.
The old tale of Druids cutting mistletoe with a golden sickle has survived strongly enough to enter modern folklore. Recall the Roman Saturnus with his scythe and think, for a moment, of the shape of that scythe. This is both the Druidic sickle and the crow's beak. That, for the druids, it should be golden is almost inevitable. Cronus slept upon a golden rock and, in his dreaming, was between the worlds. Mistletoe, without obvious progenitors, growing above ground, is a vegetable equivalent. If, for a moment, we posit the equation:
By this equation we can begin to achieve a valuable insight into the Druidic schema vis a vis Cronus/Time/Reality. In doing so we are progressing both into the past (in real terms) and into the future (as far as this present work is concerned). Graves' tree calendar may not be totally irrelevant, but there is insufficient space to give it the attention it truly warrants here.
Another link goes deep into Celtic mythology and the suspicious might regard it as tenuous. The Celts, whilst being regarded today as a British and, as is occasionally conceded, French cultural group, originally inhabited an area in southern Germany and Bohemia. By the end of the 5th century BC they had expanded into the Iberian peninsula. They sacked Rome in 390BC and by 279BC they had reached Delphi. Their expeditions to the east reached as far as Anatolia. In the west they migrated to Britain in the 5th Century BC and Ireland in the 3rd Century BC, where they allegedly dispossessed the Milesians who had ousted the Tuatha de Danaan. A great deal may be learned about the Celts from archaeological discoveries in the countries their culture dominated for several centuries. Most written documents of Celtic culture and religion are from Ireland and date from the 12th Century AD, when they were written using the Christian monkalpha, or Latin alphabet.
Obeying the Thulian "Law of Three" the Celts observed a strictly tripartite social structure which they shared with their Indo-European neighbours. The principals observed are the king, the warrior and the herder. Similarly the religious hierarchy was also tripartite, consisting of the priest/teacher/administrator Druids, the Vates, who were expert in magic and divination, and the Bards, who were concerned with oral literature and poetry. Culturally the Celts displayed contradictory tendencies. They appear at once autonomous, anarchic, and concerned for local traditions. But a basic unitary character is manifested in their social organization and (mythical) history. The Celtic pantheon as known by scholars today records and recalls the names of several hundred gods, the majority local deities. During the Roman period many Celtic deities were identified with Roman gods. An example of this is the way that Lug was identified with Mercury in Ireland.
The Tuatha De Danaan (People of the Goddess Danaan), were the mythological ancestors of the Irish. The Tuatha are described as demigods - beautiful people, possessed of skill in music and the arts. A central theme of the Tuatha is that of the Second Battle of Mag Tuired. During the First Battle of Mag Tuired the king is wounded. Now physically blemished, like
the castrated and deposed Cronus, he can no longer serve as king and the kingship is then given to his adopted son, Bres. Bres demands tribute and a champion, Lug, arises. The blemished king is equipped with a (prosthetic!) silver hand and restored to his kingship. He takes counsel with Lug and other gods and when the battle takes place the Tuatha who are slain are magically restored to life.
The Tuatha are later defeated by the Sons of Mil (Milesians), the immediate ancestors of the Irish people. Like the fairies of England and Scotland, which they are now reduced to equating with, the Tuatha are said to survive underground in Ireland.
A further problem for contemporary readers of Sylla's account is that of the sleeping and imprisoned Cronus. Orpheus has Ogygia west of Britain, though it is the North Sea to the East that both he and Pytheas named the Mare Cronium, or Mare Saturninum. Saturnus, as the Romans knew the god/planet, was far from being the dark presence postulated by astrology. He was dethroned and imprisoned by his father, Uranus, but later rescued by his son Zeus. When his later plots against Zeus were discovered he fled into hiding ("lateo") in Italy, whence comes the name "Latium" (root of both "Latin" and "Latona", who will make an appearance
in her own right later) in his honour, for as co-ruler with Janus he proved a good and popular regent and taught agriculture and the liberal arts. To some extent the god was involved with the cult of the solar horse, as he changed himself into a stallion and sired the centaur Chiron on Philyra. Philyra was one of the sea-nymphs, placated by sacrifice by sailors wanting good weather. Their most acceptable sacrifice was a black bull, recalling the departure of Sylla's Britons being timed to coincide with Saturn in Taurus the Bull. The bull was also the favoured sacrificial animal of Poseidon, god of the sea and son of Cronus, and Plato reports a sacrifice of ten bulls every six years by the twelve kings of Atlantis. Spence believes that the bull represented Poseidon in the form of the raging sea.
Cronus/Saturnus changed the nymph into a mare for the purpose of siring Chiron. Philyra was so ashamed at giving birth to such a monster that she implored the gods to change her into a tree, and became the Linden, or lime tree, which the Greeks called by her name as a result. Far from being the leaden figure of Old Father Time, the one who imprisons, denies and ultimately terminates youth, Cronus was a liberating deity. From his statues usually hung fetters in memory of his past imprisonment, and freed slaves would often dedicated their removed fetters to him.
Fig.2: The traditional and degraded image of Saturnus from astrology. The imprisonment of Cronus/Saturnus, as related by Sextus Sylla, was already well and truly over when Sylla was writing, as he would have known. Latium was established and the full legend of the god available. So why should this already freed deity, to whom the festival of the Saturnalia was offered in mid-December, still lie imprisoned? The Roman dislike of losers is well-attested by history, and they would hardly have held a feast for an imprisoned or "disadvantaged" deity.
As a native of Carthage, even though of Roman origin, Sylla's information should have been suspect to the scrupulous Plutarch. Carthaginians, according to Romans, were notoriously and even proverbially treacherous. The best-known son of Carthage was the alp-crossing Hannibal, and the city, located near present-day Tunis on the Mediterranean coast of Africa, was founded before Rome itself. Rome fought the three Punic Wars against Carthage, which at one time embraced most of North Africa, Sardinia, Spain and even Sicily, within its empire. After a three year siege the city was razed to the ground by Scipio, then rebuilt and colonized. Significantly enough for our thesis it fell to the Germanic Vandals under Genseric in 439. Sixteen years later those same Vandals were in Rome itself.
By now it must be clear that in Sylla's day Carthage was a melting-pot of both concepts and civilizations. The original Phoenician founders raised it to a city with a population of around one million, and it enjoyed trade and commerce with the entire known world, including Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Trade (certainly then) relies upon mutual advantage recognized during friendly interchanges, and the Phoenicians were thus in a position to glean all manner of information regarding both the social customs, religions and beliefs of those with whom they traded. Cities of lesser size have been razed to the ground without accrued information being completely lost. Troy is a prime example of this. And the razing of Carthage was only to facilitate its adoption by the Roman conquerors, not its total eradication.
The direction in which this leads our enquiry is that of Sextus Sylla's access to myths and information which might have lain outside the official corpus of Roman belief. In the same way that Ogygia was not Ogygia, so Cronus was not Cronus. Yet this is not to say that Sylla was wrong and Rome was right, but merely to encourage the exploration of the probability of
myths in tandem. Rome, with its concentration upon empire and power, was, with notable individual exceptions, less interested in actual reality than in self-aggrandisement. Even Tacitus' account of his father-in-law Agricola's exploits attests to this, and it is for this reason that Sylla's account, weighed by the scrupulous Plutarch before adoption, must take precedence.
In the course of another dialogue, "On The Silence Of Oracles", Plutarch cites an official named Demetrius who had visited Britain and knew something of the "Isle of Cronus". This Demetrius is able to tell him that sleep is the bond forged for Cronus by the other gods, and that the island is where Cronus sleeps imprisoned, watched over by Briareus. Now, Briareus is a fifty-headed, hundred-handed giant who was the offspring of heaven and earth. Recalling that Thule/Hyperborea has already been described as the place where heaven and earth meet, and that the expedition described by Sylla set out with the planet of Cronus propitious to the enterprise, an identification of the Isle of Cronus with Thule becomes less tentative.
Cronus is surrounded by many associates and inferiors during his sleep upon the island. He has been confined there by Zeus, says Demetrius, yet he is the sole ruler of the surrounding islands and the sea (Mare Cronium?), which was known as the Gulf of Cronus. He rests upon a rock which bears the appearance of gold, the eternal metal, within a deep cave which is open at the top. Birds fly through this upper opening bearing ambrosia with which they feed the sleeping Titan. The rock itself exudes a wonderful fragrance which pervades the air of the island, and the island itself is intensely beautiful to behold.
Demetrius makes his prison of the sleeping giant a truly magical and lovely place. Even in today's enlightened society there must be many a prisoner who would love to sleep away his or her sentence in a fragrant cave, fed on the food of the gods. Yet there is a purpose to Cronus' sleeping and to the presence of his servants and companions. It is said that whatsoever Zeus premeditates is dreamed by Cronus. The role of the attendants is to interpret the dreams as well as uttering oracles in their own right. But their own prognostications, however, are always of a lesser nature than those of their sleeping master.
Both Sextus Sylla and Demetrius would have been well aware that it was not Zeus/Jupiter who was responsible for the imprisonment of Cronus in this particular location. This leaves us wondering whether they sought to deliberately mislead their readers or whether perhaps they were drawing on older, possibly independent, traditions which they chose to express in terms which would have been comprehensible, if possibly confusing because of the introduction of unfamiliar elements, to their contemporary audiences. This latter appears the more likely, promoting the question as to which deity was actually responsible for the imprisonment mentioned in the Thule/Hyperborea stories.
The Roman attitude towards myth is best summed up by Tacitus, who will shortly make an appearance in his own right, who remarked that it was both more pious and more reverent to believe without questioning than to attempt to challenge the myths and replace them with facts. This observation was passed with especial reference to the Northern Ocean, where Pillars of Herakles other than those commonly acknowledged had been rumoured in the far North. If this was the case then those Pillars of Herakles beyond which Atlantis lay may not have been those commonly supposed from Plato and known today as the Straits of Gibraltar. Indulging in speculation for a moment, they might even have been the English Channel.
The next sighting of Thule which we have to consider is from a source which has to be regarded as the most reliable so far. The mention appears in the "Agricola" of the Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus, in Chapter 10. There are two reasons for us to so regard it. The first is that this particular historian has a reputation for accuracy and care which adds an extra dimension of reliability to his writings. The second is that he was writing about his father-in-law.
The "Agricola" was written in AD 98 and in it Tacitus describes the first circumnavigation of the British Isles by a Roman fleet. It was during this expedition that, for the first time, the Romans were able to assure themselves that Britain was an island.
During this voyage the Romans discovered and subjugated the Isles of Orkney, later to become a Viking colony. More importantly for us they sighted Thule, yet did not land there. Winter was close at hand and, more relevant for the militaristic Romans, their orders did not instruct them to make a landing. If the Romans had actually landed on Thule during this circumnavigation, as they did at a later time, the Island of Cronus would be better recorded today. Perhaps it was the important Thulian concept known as fate which prevented a landing being included in their orders. Certainly such a landing would have rendered much modern speculation superfluous and possibly have even denied Thule the important advantage of secrecy.
Robert Charroux goes so far as to assert that Thule once existed, though he immediately places an enormous question mark against this assertion by claiming that the island perished during a violent cataclysm during the third millennium BC. Perhaps his words were retrospectively prophetic, as Seneca (4 BC - AD 65), in the "Medea", describes the ending of the world as a time when "the sea will burst its bounds...and of those lands which we know, Thule will no longer be the farthest distant". These words closely echo an exchange between a Celt, most probably a Druid as he was displaying his knowledge by answering a direct question, and Alexander the Great (died 323 BC). The question was regarding the nature of that which the Celts were most afraid of. The answer was that they feared nothing, "as long as the sky did not fall nor the sea burst its limits." Allowing for differences in translation at least a very close parallel will be observed in this response.
By now we may be approaching the conclusion that Hyperborea and Thule may be the same place. The next question thus has to be: If Thule/Hyperborea actually existed, where was/is it/ they? The name Thule is first found in an account of Pytheas' voyage written around 150 BC by Polybius. Other authors also ascribe the first sighting of Thule to the Greek mariner from Marseilles. Pliny is explicit: "It is an island in the Northern Ocean discovered by Pytheas, after he had sailed six days from the Orcades" (usually regarded as the Orkneys).
There is a small problem here in that the Orcades of Pliny and Tacitus (in the "Agricola") were only discovered during the first Roman circumnavigation of the British Isles, the better part of 400 years after Pytheas. Orcus was another name for Hades, which could make the Orcades the Isles of the Dead. And if Pytheas, who would naturally have preferred to follow the coast around the Iberian Peninsula instead of navigating out into the wide blue unknown yonder, had landed in Brittany instead of Britain, then the Orcades he might have sailed from could have been the Channel Islands.
If the Orcades are taken to be the Orkneys, or even the British Isles as a whole, then the description of Thule is inescapably best applied to modern Iceland. Ptolemy believed that Thule was one of the Shetland Isles, as did Marinus. But later writers didn't hesitate - for them Thule was undoubtedly Iceland.
Magnus Magnusson, himself a descendant from Viking stock, believes that Pytheas had seen and described the Arctic regions of Norway, despite this defaming the navigational abilities of the Greek sailors. If Thule wasn't Iceland, then it was so misnamed by both the Irish astronomer-monk Dicuil, living in France around AD 825, and the Venerable Bede (died AD 735) the better part of a hundred years before him. By then, however, the name had stuck. Whether or not Thule was Iceland, and much of the available evidence so far tends to suggest Fig.3: Part of Ptolemy's map of the world published in 1540, which shows Iceland called by the name Thyle, or Thule.
that it might have been, Iceland was certainly called Thule. A few Roman coins have been found in Southern Iceland from a period 200 years after Tacitus was singing the praises of his father-in-law Agricola. The inference here is that the Romans did land during a later expedition which has failed to survive in documentary form. The puzzle this must set us is to
determine what they found and what action they took.
Viking settlement in Iceland took place after AD 860. Although the island had been previously visited by various voyagers it was only then that Raven Flóki (Flóki Vilgerdarson), attempted the first settlement at Vatnsfjördur, West of Bardaströnd, and gave the perceived Thule its new name of ísland (Iceland). The land they found was much better wooded than the Iceland of today, with up to a quarter of the land mass covered with birch and scrub willow. It was also uninhabited, save for a few Irish monks who made a rapid and pragmatic exit when the Vikings arrived.
The Irish monks were able to confirm to Dicuil that Iceland was indeed the land of the midnight sun. This, coupled with the account of Pytheas, possibly as preserved in the "Geographica" of Strabo, doubtless helped to establish that the land they had found in their quest for solitude was indeed the fabled Isle of Thule, albeit a Thule devoid of human inhabitants.
The Thule described by Pytheas around 330 BC was most definitely inhabited. The Ogygia of Sextus Sylla formed the prison for the sleeping Cronus, as well as being home to his oracular underlings, around AD 75. If this was actually Iceland neither any inhabitants nor any remains of inhabitants were noticeably there when the Irish anchorites arrived, sometime around AD 825, and only they remained to greet Raven Flóki the better part of half a century later. From this chronology we may determine that, if Thule was Iceland, any cataclysm (or approximation thereunto) suffered by the Thulians took place after AD
75 and before the arrival of the Irish. Iceland is, geologically speaking, comparatively young, and still has active volcanoes. Eruption threatening the established Thulian culture and forcing an abandonment and migration is one possibility. Reinforcing this is the statement that Quetzalcoatl withdrew to the old land of Tlapallan after his city of Tulla had been ruined by flooding, suffocation and poisoning. The hot springs of Iceland have today been harnessed to grow tropical fruits in Icelandic hot-houses, and could well have created the "fertile and beautiful valley" where the Thulians dwelled, surrounded by mountains of solid ice. And the persistence of the island would also account for the return of a small number of refugees, possibly even piloting external expeditions, to discover the remains, now an island battered by the icy waves of the Northern seas.
Another explanation for Thule's disappearance from the world of men, based on known precedent, is that the Romans, whose discovered coins date from the time of Aurelian, Probus and Diocletian (AD 270 - 305), found Thulian doctrine too dangerous, subversive or otherwise unacceptable and destroyed, dispersed or banished the inhabitants. At first sight the noted Roman tolerance of other religions mitigates against this, but the massacre of the Druids in AD 61 must not be forgotten. Yet here we may be misled, for the implication of the massacre is that it finished Druidism once and for all. Against this, a quarter of a millennium after the massacre, is the evidence of Decimus Magnus Ausonius, born in Gaul in 310 and later tutor to the son of the Emperor Valentinian, that a contemporary of his named Phoebicius was a past keeper of the Temple of Belenus (of whom Abaris was a priest) and an Armorican Druid. With Thule we are dealing with a culture which had at some time influenced both the
Pythagoreans and the Celts and Druids as well. A superficial identification of Thulian and Druidic doctrine would have been quite sufficient to cause a violent Roman reaction, and we shall shortly examine a strong possibility that the Druids actually were members of the Thulian Priesthood. It is also worth noticing that the latter end of the period covered by the coins discovered in Iceland coincides with one of the last great persecutions of the Christians, before Constantine's accession and conversion brought toleration and growth for the faith.
Eventually we shall be able to trace the presence of a strong Thulian influence amongst some of the most influential peoples of the ancient world. That of the Pythagoreans is beyond dispute in the classical world, and that of the Druids throughout Britain and Gaul was at one time supreme. Stonehenge itself, though mot a Druid structure, was long thought to be a Hyperborean temple of Apollo, and Britain itself bore the epithet "Isles of the Blessed", already noted as one of the appellations of Thule.
Probably the most famous megalithic site in the world, Stonehenge, has been shown by excavations and radiocarbon dating to have had an exceptionally long history of use as a ceremonial or religious centre, or conceivably both. During its first period (c.2800 BC) the site was enclosed by a circular ditch with an internal bank. The entrance was on the northeast side. Inside the bank on the inner side of the ditch was a ring of 56 pits (the "Aubrey holes", named after their 17th-century discoverer), which were later used for the burial of cremated bodies. Outside the entrance the builders erected the huge, upright Heelstone (heilstone) and a timber gate.
The second period (c.2100 BC) saw the construction of an earthwork approach road to the entrance of the bank and ditch. It also saw the erection, within the earlier circle, of a double circle of menhirs which had been transported thence from the Preseli Mountains in southwest Wales. Both of these features were orientated toward the summer solstice sunrise.
Period 3 (from c.2000 BC) saw the emplacement at the centre of the site of a circle of 30 sarsen-stone uprights 100 ft in diameter which was capped by a continuous ring of sarsen lintels. Within this is a horseshoe-shaped setting of five sarsen trilithons. All the sarsen stones were transported about 20 miles from the Marlborough Downs, dressed to shape and jointed together. Further work was also undertaken before the beginning of Period 4 (c.1100 BC), when the Avenue was extended to the River Avon, over a mile away.
Stonehenge was not built as a Druid temple. The Druids did not appear in Britain until a few hundred years before the Christian era, at least two thousand years before work on the site began. Neither was it a casual project, as the construction of miles of earthworks, not to mention the conveyance of massive blocks of stone over what were, for the times, enormous distances, ably demonstrates. Whether or not its description as a temple dedicated to Apollo has influenced thinking or not, recent years have seen many attempts to interpret the site as a prehistoric astronomical observatory. Certainly from Period 2 its axis of symmetry pointed in the general direction of the sunrise at the summer solstice, when Apollo was in residence in his Hyperborean domain. When the role of the Hyperborean Abaris in founding Druidism is considered later, together with the high regard in which the British Isles were held as possessed of some source of secret or inspiring wisdom by writer after writer, another location, based less upon suspect geographical evidence and more upon the knowledge and intuition of the ancient sages, may actually be emerging for Hyperborea if not for Ultima Thule itself. Certainly, and in
Before we finally abandon or resolve the question as to where Thule actually was located, we should at least make passing reference to Greenland, or Kalaallit Nunaat, which is the world's largest island. Lying north-east of the North American continent, more than two-thirds of its area is north of the Arctic Circle. Nearly 1700 miles long and around 750 miles wide, its northernmost point is less than 500 miles from the North Pole. Although having strong ties to Denmark, Greenland has had home rule since 1979.
Most of the island is covered with ice, and it is indisputably the largest ice mass outside of Antarctica. Snow in the interior never melts but turns into ice from the weight of succeeding snowfalls. Its glaciers flow into fjords along the coast and include one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, the Jacobshavn Glacier, which can move at up to 100 ft per day.
The majority of the inhabitants are a mix of Eskimo and European immigrants, the latter primarily from Denmark, created since the 18th century. It is still possible to discover some isolated communities of pure Eskimo, mostly in the north. The two major languages are Danish and Greenlandic, the latter based on the mid-19th-century creation of a single literary language out of many similar Eskimo dialects. Since 1979 the Greenlandic forms of placenames have been used increasingly. The Lutheran Church of Denmark is the official religion.
Eskimos migrated to Greenland between 4000 BC and AD 1000. The first Norse settlers reached the island as a part of the explorations of Erik the Red around 980 and established a colony which persisted until around 1400. Explorers had charted the coast by the close of the sixteenth century, and the island was settled in 1721 by a Christian missionary licensed by the Danish crown, which assumed control in 1729.
During World War II, with Denmark under Nazi occupation, the United States took over Greenland as a protectorate, offering to buy the land-mass in 1946 but being refused by the Danish government. It did, however, obtain permission to retain and develop its major radar and weather installation, base at that part of Greenland which had been named Thule. This name was probably bestowed by the explorer Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen when he founded the settlement in 1910.
Thule is also a name figuring in one of several divisions in the history of Eskimo culture. The Eskimos, or Inuit, inhabited this land long before other cultures arrived. Indeed, the history of habitation in Greenland is much longer than that for Iceland, and Inuit history itself can be traced back as far as around 4000 BC. At Cape Krusenstern in northwest Alaska evidence has been discovered of a long sequence of Eskimo and pre-Eskimo cultures. These include the Denbigh Flint Complex (3000-2500 BC) a phase marking the transition from inland hunting to coastal life; remains of the Old Whaling culture (2000-1500 BC), at least partially based on whale hunting; early Eskimo cultures such as Choris (1500-500 BC), Norton (second half of the 1st millennium BC), Ipiutak (first half of the 1st millennium BC, and Western Thule (AD 500-1000), itself based on whaling and believed to have been developed in Alaska. The religious beliefs of the original inhabitants of Greenland bear close comparison with those of the Norsemen to the East Broad cultural values stressed the importance and
excitement of hunting and the need to appease the souls of animals killed in the hunt. Courage and hardihood, as with the Norse killing of the aurochs, were emphasized in the training of young Eskimos, and so was a strong sense of fatalism (Norse wyrd) in facing the disappointments and frustrations of life. Eskimo religion was animistic, attributing spirits or souls to most animals as well as to important features of the landscape. Human beings had several souls, including the name, which transmigrated after death into the body of a newborn infant given the same name. There are parallels here with the beliefs of Philolaus, a 5thcentury-BC Greek philosopher of the Pythagorean school who probably believed that the soul is a harmony of the bodily parts and
that knowledge is possible only through numbers. Plato was influenced by him, and Aristotle was probably acquainted with certain of his works. The essential religious figure was the Shaman, who fulfilled a variety of functions. It was his purpose to divine the causes of poor hunting, which often was believed to be brought on by a group member breaking food or hunting taboos; to diagnose and treat sickness; and to serve as the general source of advice in coping with crisis. Most groups believed in a supreme ruler of the sea animals (Norse Njord, Ægir or Ran) and in the deification of natural
forces. Not only do these beliefs have a great deal in common with the Norse, they also correspond to several major Pythagorean threads. Yet whilst there may be Thulian influences, and even the name itself, to be detected in the story of Greenland, the link remains tenuous. Of the two locations Iceland, even to an unbiased observer, is the more likely home of a civilization which could have influenced the ancient Mediterranean realms.
If Iceland was actually Thule, then at one point in their history the Thulians were forced out of their homeland for some reason. Roman reaction to their tenets is one possibility, though there is no known evidence to show that Thule per se was Druidic. Roman proscription of the Druids was based upon the fact that the Druidic realms also formed a part of their Empire, and there is no reason to suppose that any physical presence of
Thule ever did. Yet this is not to say that the Romans failed to recognize and react against teachings which they found unpalatable. A second possibility for the abandonment of an Icelandic Thule is a natural migration, possibly prompted by some adverse circumstance such as a volcanic eruption or climatic change, both of which could well have taken place. And there is a third possibility as well, perhaps not as logical as the others and, because of that, promoting a strong temptation to ignore it altogether. Yet it exists and must be considered.
The Ogygia of Sextus Sylla was more than simply a prison for the sleeping Cronus. It was also a shrine and a college. The identification of Ogygia/Hyperborea with Thule makes it reasonably certain that the subjects studied there by students and initiates from Britain and, in all probability, elsewhere, embraced Thulian doctrine. A shrine exists as a place of pilgrimage and worship, as with Lourdes and Walsingham today, yet being merely something which houses an object of worship, which means that it is essentially portable. A college exists as a seat of learning, but knowledge and the instruments of its inculcation are likewise portable.
fertile ground of Greece and Britain, and most likely other nations as well. The presence of Thule was established in Greece and thus had a back-door entry into Rome itself, from whence it could be spread throughout the Empire and the neighbouring Pagan lands. Germany and Scandinavia may well have been subjected to influences from both the North and the South if this was the case. Yet this last possibility is definitely the least likely of the three. Thule's work exists to be done today as much as it ever did in those vanished days of myth and history, and the descendants of Boreas would have had sufficient skill and knowledge to foresee that such would be the case.
Thule was responsible for most of the early learning in the areas it is known to have permeated, such as Greece, Britain, Northern Europe and Scandinavia, if not the entire world. Its concepts included the initial perceptions of democracy and the later to be denigrated role of woman in both society and history. Its past is both a matter of record and a pointer towards the directions which should be followed by modern man, emphasizing as it does ways in which we may return to a world-saving cosmic harmony under the direction of teachings which have already made significant input to our development. To ignore the influence of Thule is to deny our established birthright. The positive spirit of Thule is as alive today, as we stand upon the threshold of the twenty-first (Christian) century, as ever the negative aspect was in the Nazi era. Thule still has a valid message for modern man.
Hyperborea, Apollo and Thule - Silenus - Brutus - Geoffrey of Monmouth - Nennius Geoffrey and Nennius Interpreted - The Daughters of Danaus - Perceptions of Thule and Hyperborea - Was Hyperborea Britain?
"Some doubt of Troy, others think Brute's a Fable, Cause that Age did, what this hath not been able. Succeeding Times, if they allow our Story, Will yet as much Demurr upon Our Glory. Sir Winston Churchill in "Divi Britannici", London 1675.
So far we have considered Thule in virtual isolation. Now it is time to explore a parallel myth or reality. In Greek legend a happy and contented people lived lives a thousand years long beneath a cloudless sky. They knew neither strife nor violence and their home lay beyond Boreas, the North Wind, whom according to O'Brien they also worshipped. Boreas was one of the Four Winds born to Astræus ("starry") and Aurora ("dawn"). He was regarded as one of the primal Pelasgian deities and, amongst his accredited feats, was that of changing himself into a horse in order to sire mares. Thus the people of this land were named Hyperboreans, and their home was called Hyperborea. Today the term is applied to dwellers in the far North, even though the lands they inhabit are known and charted.
Higgins identifies the original Hyperboreans with nomadic Celtic culture, stating that they would once have inhabited virtually every realm which is claimed as their homeland by the various Greek histories which mention them. Celt was the name applied by ancient Greek writers, from the 5th century BC on, to a group of peoples who inhabited central and western Europe. For over 2,000 years they spread throughout Europe, settling Gaul, penetrating northern Spain and crossing to the British Isles around 700 BC. Celtic grave goods include southern imports that indicate a flourishing trade with the Mediterranean world, if not a flourishing plundering of it. They sacked Rome around 390 BC and even reached Delphi, but modern traces only remain along the Atlantic fringe. Both British and French regional peoples still possess strong Celtic elements today.
Yet their power was not to last. Celtic culture was adversely affected by onslaughts from the Romans to the south and the Germanic peoples in the north and east. Pressure from both began during the second century BC. The Celtic heartland, Gaul, was subjugated by Julius Caesar in the Gallic Wars (58-51 BC), and the Romans conquered Britain a century later.
Still, the story persists that the Celts inhabited a land which was a mysterious, magical realm of ecstasy and sorcery. They were also, according to Higgins and several other writers, identified with the Druids.
Hyperborea presents us with a few oddities which remain to be explored. At this precise moment they may appear irrelevant, but their essential nature will become apparent later on, especially as ancient traditions place Hyperborea more or less in that part of the globe which also embraces Thule.
in the more familiar pages of myth, we must also recall that Zeus was both a son of Cronus and also the father of Apollo. Sylla's Cronus uttered prophecies in his sleep. Apollo uttered them via the medium of a prophetess. Apollo's mother Leto also had a highly-regarded oracle of her own in Egypt. Apollo was, amongst other attributions, the god of archery, and an arrow, presented to him by Apollo, was the magical means by which Abaris the Hyperborean, who could become invisible, spoke oracles and cured diseases, made his visit to Greece from his native Hyperborea.
During this visit Abaris laid the foundation of the temple of Proserpine (Greek Persephone) at Lacedæmon, which he purified of disease, as well as building the adytum of the temple at Delphi, circumscribing the oracular cave with eight pillars constructed with the wax and wings of the bees he brought with him from Hyperborea. He also visited many oracles and wrote treatises, including a history of oracles and an account of Apollo's travels amongst the Hyperboreans, neither of which is today extant.
In ancient Greece, a priest or priestess who communicated the response of a god to a questioner was called an oracle. The term was also applied to the response itself and to the shrine of the god who was its patron. The most famous oracles were at Dodona, where Zeus was thought to give (proto-Druidic?) answers through the rustling of the oak leaves, and, as noted above, at Delphi, where Apollo supposedly spoke through a priestess. In both cases, oracular responses came in such ambiguous ways that it was difficult to prove them wrong.
The Delphic oracle was a means of divination, the practice of foretelling the future by means of being in touch with divine or preternatural powers. Based on the belief that the future is predetermined, as with the Norse concept of Wyrd, the practice has been common to all peoples from the very earliest times. The Egyptians and Babylonians had special classes of priestly diviners, including astrologers. The Greeks consulted oracles and the Romans had a state-sponsored college of augurs, a select group that read the future by studying the behaviour of birds or the markings on the liver or entrails of sacrificed animals. The kind of questions which would have been asked of the oracle would have included the outcome of great undertakings, including war, auspicious times for constructing temples, electing public officials, or passing important laws, and personal matters put by those who could afford the consultation.
Even when we pass Classical Greek times and enter those of the Romans we find a newer but equally famous oracle at Cumae, an ancient city near Naples, and perhaps the earliest Greek colony in Italy. It was probably founded around 750 BC by Chalcis, after which it prospered, founding and dominating a number of other Greek colonies. Its ruler, the hero and later tyrant Aristodemus, held off Etruscan invaders in the sixth century BC, enabling both the city and the colony to maintain its supremacy until 421 BC when it was taken by the Sabelli. It subsequently came under Roman control, with its inhabitants eventually becoming full Roman citizens in the second century BC. Although gradually eclipsed by other cities, it survived until the 13th century. Cumae's extensive archaeological remains include the cave where the Cumaean Sybil, again a mouthpiece of Apollo, most probably delivered her prophesies.
According to Iamblichus, Abaris presented the arrow to Pythagoras. This is just feasible if the opinion of Himerius that Abaris lived some 600 years before Christ is allowed, as the usually accepted dates for Pythagoras are c.582-507 BC. Abaris' appearance and bearing are recorded by Strabo, who describes him as bow in hand, quiver on shoulders, gilded belt, a plaid around his body and trousers from his waist to the soles of his feet. His behaviour and learning were both adjudged admirable and, importantly for our current thesis, he spoke admirably fluent Greek.
There is a hint from Higgins that the sage of Samos incorporated Thulian doctrines into his teaching, and possession of this arrow would have conferred upon the philosopher such a gift of prophecy that his answers on any question would be regarded as being the equal in certainty to those of Apollo himself. Perhaps the best known identification of Apollo is with the sun. The Island of Thule described by Pytheas gave views of the midnight sun, the sun in darkness yet still visible, still triumphant even within the dark domain of night, like Persephone with Hades.
Leaving this darkness to one side, the Hyperboreans were a happy people, free of discord and sickness and, apparently, immortal. When they had lived long enough they celebrated, according to Diodorus, anointed themselves with sweet-perfumed unguents and leaped to their deaths off a certain unnamed rock. They worshipped Apollo, and the god was suppos d to visit the island every nineteen years.
Initially this visit was said to be in celebration of the origination there of the concept of heliocentricity. Nineteen years, according to the Greeks, was the period of the Great Year, at the end of which the stars had returned in their courses to that point from which they had begun. Yet we should also remember that Hyperborea was the native country of his mother Leto.
During the time of his visit to Hyperborea Apollo was seen by the inhabitants to appear every evening from the Spring Equinox to the rising of the Pleiades. If we return for a moment to the account of the expedition to Ogygia given by Sextus Sylla we will remember that the departure took place with Saturn in Taurus. The Pleiades is a star-cluster in the zodiacal constellation of Taurus. Bearing in mind that Apollo has such a close association with Hyperborea it is hardly coincidental that the sun (Apollo) was, according to Higgins, worshipped when in the Zodiacal sign of Taurus for around 4000 years before Christianity. The mention of Taurus thus becomes more than simply a random attribution.
SILENUS The son of Pan and father of the Satyrs, Silenus was a notorious drunkard. On one occasion he became the involuntary guest of King Midas, and regaled the monarch with stories of a distant continent, separate from the linked lands of Europe, Africa and Asia. This was Hyperborea, and it was inhabited by long-lived giants who possessed a legal system better than anything known in Greece. It was the home of splendid cities and a massive expedition had once been mounted thence.
The information, whilst imparted by a source which can hardly be called reliable, being traditionally both inebriated and mythical, accords well with the material we have gathered so far. Silenus added, amongst other details, that the confluence of two streams created a whirlpool. On the banks of one grew fruit-trees that caused those eating therefrom to suffer pain and pass away. On the banks of the other were trees whose fruit was capable of renewing youth. This killing and curing is a Thulian/Hyperborean theme which we shall have cause to examine later.
There is a well-established legend to the effect that a Trojan named Brutus gave his name to Britain. Scholars such as John Milton the poet and the first Sir Winston Churchill took pains to consider its veracity and neither could wholly reject it. In fairness it must be said that much of the following material dealing with this and allied myths has been discounted by modern historians. But in equal fairness we should recognize that myth inevitably contains a germ of truth, no matter how distorted, and that in its preservation is the true legacy of our past, in essence if not in actuality.
According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, writing in the 12th Century (around 1135) and drawing heavily upon the "British History" of Nennius, who was himself writing some four centuries earlier, Britain takes its name from Britto, or Brutus, a descendant of that Aeneas who escaped the fall of Troy. Geoffrey claimed to have his "History" from ancient sources, but, apart from the rather scant comparison with Nennius, today there is no way of knowing for certain. Because of this his work has been rashly criticized as a fiction of his own devising. Drawing upon oral sources is a certain way of ensuring your work is denigrated by later scholarship, it appears, unless you are a folklorist armed with a tape-recorder.
Geoffrey's tale may be condensed as follows. After the siege of Troy Aeneas, with his son Ascanius, made his way to Italy by boat. There he eventually seized the kingdom from his enemy King Turnus, as reported in Virgil's "Æneid", and his ally King Latinus of Tuscany. He then took Latinus' daughter Lavinia to wife.
Ascanius became king after Aeneas and fathered a son called Silvius. Silvius married and impregnated a niece of Lavinia's. Soothsayers declared to Ascanius that his grandson, eventually named Brutus, would cause the deaths of his father and mother, wander in exile and eventually rise to fame and triumph.
Brutus' mother died in childbirth. Fifteen years later, whilst aiming at a stag during a hunt, Brutus killed his father Silvius by accident. Exiled to Greece he liberated the surviving Trojan prisoners, beating the Greeks in a series of battles. He then married Ignoge, daughter of the Greek king Pandrasus and set sail with his people in an armada of 324 ships loaded with provisions.
Two days and a night later they landed at an uninhabited island called Leogetia, where they found a deserted city with a temple dedicated to Diana. In a dream Brutus' request for guidance from the goddess was answered. "Beyond the setting sun," she told him, "past the realms of Gaul, there lies an island in the sea which was once the abode of giants." Here he was told his descendants would found the second Troy. Brutus' further adventures carried himself and his followers through the Pillars of Hercules and on to Aquitaine, eventually resulting in a landing on the promised isle at Totnes. He found it uninhabited, save for a few giants, and renamed it Britain for himself, its previous name being Albion. Its language, previously called Trojan, or Crooked Greek, was likewise renamed British.
The giants were driven into caves and mountainous places. The most notable of the survivors, Gogmagog, who was twelve feet high and could fight with an uprooted oak as easily as he could with a hazel wand, was defeated and dashed to pieces by Brutus' fellow Trojan Corineus, a known giant-killer, who threw him off Plymouth Hoe and took the realm of Cornwall for himself. There is an alternative story in which Gog and Magog became porters in Brutus' palace at New Troy (Trinovantum = London). Today Cornwall still has more tales of giants than any other area of the British Isles.
The conflict with Gogmagog was not without injury for Corineus, who broke three ribs and became enraged enough to finish his opponent. Cornwall takes its name either from the name of Corineus or from being the cornu, or horn, of Britain.
The name of Gogmagog is harder to identify. In Revelations 20, viii, Satan will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth and gather them together. Gog and Magog (who are undescribed) are cited as these nations, whose number is as the sands of the sea. Leaving this aside it has to be remarked that "og" is a primary constituent of both names. Ogmius, creator of "Ogham", the Celtic equivalent of runic writing, has a further identification with the Greek Herakles and the Roman Hercules in that he carried a club. The chalk figure known as the Cerne Abbas giant may well relate to this.
well-stocked with fish. Brutus selected a site for his capital on the River Thames, calling it Troia Nova, or New Troy. Eventually the words became corrupted into Trinovantum. Brutus presented the city to his followers and gave them a code of laws which would enable them to live peacefully together.
The landing in Britain is dated by internal evidence in Geoffrey to around 1075 BC. Brutus died 23 years later in 1052. After that his descendants held the kingdom, despite internecine strife. Counting Brutus as the first, and rather ignobly ignoring Queen Gwendolen's reign of fifteen years, Bladud becomes the ninth king of Britain, ruling for 20 years which culminated around 753 BC, the traditional date for the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus. Bladud was succeeded by his son Leir, Shakespeare's Lear, who in turn was succeeded by his daughter Cordelia before the kingdom passed to Bran.
NENNIUS The historian Nennius was definitely one of Geoffrey's sources. One of the problems of dealing with older material is that biographical details become difficult to find and there is a lack of understanding of time as it is conceived today. For example, Geoffrey's work covers a period of two millennia, but only three precisely identifiable dates occur during his timescale. The dates provided from him above are based on synchronisms derived from the text, which themselves have been borrowed from writers such as the Venerable Bede, Isidore of Seville and Nennius. Nennius himself sorts the ages of the world into six, as follow:
1) From Adam to Noah. 2) From Noah to Abraham. 3) From Abraham to David. This third age of the world was when the British/Trojans were supposed to have come to Britain. 4) From David to Daniel. 5) From Daniel to John the Baptist. 6) From John to the Judgement, when Jesus Christ will come to judge the world through fire, etc.
Brutus as the namer of Britain is initially said by Nennius to have been a Roman Consul. Later he provides two alternative explanations. The first is that we have met above, with Aeneas' father-in-law Latinus being a third generation descendant of Saturnus. The second is more tortuous, tracing the lineage of Brutus back to Alanus, of the race of Japheth, son of Noah.
There is also a third derivation in Nennius, albeit well-hidden, to the effect that Brutus is of the race of Ham, the accursed branch of the House of Noah. Ham is reputed in Genesis IX to have seen the nakedness of his father whilst Noah was drunk. The description is one of such obscurity to leave us wondering why such a casual glance was so dreadful, with Noah's drunkenness appearing more shameful than Ham's ocular indiscretion. Even so, Ham continued to be a progenitor of Nimrod and the father of the Canaanites, Ethiopians, Africans and Philistines. Egypt itself is poetically described as the Land of Ham.
During the second explanation Nennius provides a condensed but compatible version of the tale delivered by Geoffrey above. The main difference is that Britto (Brutus) is given as the brother of Silvius and thus becomes a son, rather than a grandson, of Aeneas. It may be asked why a warrior-race, such as the Trojan/British must be perceived as being, was later subjected by the Romans. Both seidr and the historian Nennius provide the answer, in that the British, possibly grown secure in their insularity, as they have tried to be throughout this present twentieth century, were "unused to weapons". This explanation implies a "Golden Age" for both sorcery and pacifism in Britain, in the same way that we have previously noted that Saturn(us)/Cronus provided a "Golden Age" for Latium/Italy.
By now sufficient inconsistencies will have arisen to require some need for guidance on the part of the reader, despite the fact that the material we have been examining has come from two British writers who are regarded as "antiquaries" by Academia rather than as historians. For this reason we shall examine the two accounts so far discovered for elements which, by now, should be becoming familiar. In the following material the Latin names (e.g. Diana = Artemis, and Saturnus = Cronus) of the original may sometimes be replaced by the earlier Greek.
"Latinus" stems inadvertently from the known name of Cronus. Saturnus, as the Romans knew the god, was dethroned and imprisoned by his father, Uranus, but later rescued by his son Jove/Zeus. When his later plots against Zeus were discovered he fled into hiding ("lateo") in Italy, whence comes the name "Latium" (root of "Latin" and "Latinus") in his honour. He proved a good and popular regent and taught agriculture and the liberal arts to the people he found himself charged with looking after.
We thus have two reasons for assuming the family of Brutus to be connected to the gods via Saturnus/Cronus. As well as the implications of the etymology we have the direct statement that Brutus is one of Cronus' descendants by way of his direct ancestor Aeneas. Lavinia, Aeneas' wife, was first betrothed to Turnus according to classical myth, but was given to Aeneas after Turnus' death.
Fearing her son-in-law Ascanius' anger Lavinia fled to the woods. She was there delivered of a child called Aeneas Silvius. The relationship to woodland of "Silvius" is almost so wellknown as to require no explanation. Everyone in this day and age must surely know that "sylvania" means forest or woodland, having been exposed to the Dracula myth where "transylvania" means "the land beyond the forest."
Brutus' augury is well-documented by Geoffrey and worthy of further expansion. In the deserted city on the Isle of Leogetia there was found a temple to Diana/Artemis, sister of Apollo. Hither Brutus repaired with the Augur Gero and twelve of the elders of his expedition to obtain an oracle. No one of these is actually recorded as being of any assistance to him. Between them they carried everything necessary for a sacrifice of the times, wrapping
"fillets" around their brows and setting up three sacrificial hearths to the gods Jupiter/Jove, Mercury/Hermes and Diana/Artemis. To each deity they poured a libation. The only one recorded is that of Brutus to Diana/ Artemis. This was poured with his face towards the deity, and consisted of the blood of a white hind (almost, if not exactly, the creature he had been aiming at when he killed his father) mixed with wine. Invoking Diana/Artemis with this offering he later receives his response, which turns his intentions towards Albion/Britain, in a dream. Artemis, it will not have been forgotten, is both the twin sister of Apollo and the daughter of their Hyperborean mother Leto.
Kendrick is certain that the Trojan origin of Britain would have been known to British skalds during the Viking Age. The Norsemen themselves could not claim this origin as they were comparatively recent settlers, but there is material to show that their claimed descent from Odin is itself a descent from Boreas.
The daughters of Danaus, by different mothers including Naiads, hamadryads and princesses of Elephantis and Memphis, are supposed to have been exiled after murdering their husbands. They were headed by the eldest, Albina, who is said to have given her name to the land (Albion) in which they settled. At that time there were giant native inhabitants for the newcomers to confront, and they are said to have interbred and created the race of giants which populated Britain before Brutus and the Trojans arrived. Later (Christian) tradition has these giants building such landscape features as Wansdyke (Odin's dyke) as a means of explaining the influence of the Norse gods. With relation to this particular feature it has been suggested that there was a cult centre of Odin close by in the Vale of Pewsey. Nor is this example unique by far.
Danaus (judge or son of Danaë), a descendent of Zeus and a grandson of Poseidon, reigned with his brother Ægyptus on the throne of Egypt. Eventually they fell to disputing and Danaus set sail, in the first-ever two-prowed ship, with his fifty daughters. Three died when he paused at Rhodes, traditionally the property of his ancestor Danaë until deposed by a Hittite bull-god, to raise a temple to Athene. Eventually Danaus stole the crown of the king of Argos, who was out of favour with Poseidon, chiefly because of an omen of a wolf killing a bull (the wolf was regarded as an avatar of Apollo) and dedicated a shrine to the god at Argos.
The fifty sons of Ægyptus embarked for Greece and married their cousins, Danaus' daughters. Danaus caused all but one of the brides to murder their husbands on the wedding-night for two reasons. One was because an oracle had informed him he would be killed by a son-inlaw, and the other was that Ægyptus had instructed his sons to murder their brides. All Danaus' daughters obeyed, stabbing their husbands through the heart, except Hypermnestra, who on the advice of Apollo's twin sister Artemis spared the life of Lynceus. Hypermnestra later raised a shrine to Artemis, as had her father on the banks of the River Pontinus. Lynceus became Danaus' acknowledged son-in-law and successor, later killing him.
The daughters presented their father with their husbands' heads as token of their deeds. Jupiter/Zeus ordered that they be purified of the crime, and this was undertaken by Mercury/ Hermes and Minerva/Athene when they sailed into exile.
This myth has several connections with Hyperborea. Apollo is the principal recorded Hyperborean deity. The Pelasgian Creation Myth has Eurynome masturbating Boreas to fertilize the cosmic egg. Euripides recorded that the Pelasgians renamed themselves Danaans after Danaus arrived in Argos.
Another connection is in the maritime aspects of the story, bearing in mind the insular nature of Hyperborea and the Hyperboreans. Danaus built the first two-prowed ship, riding the waves better than any previously in history. One of his daughters, Amymone, mated with Poseidon, the divine ruler of Plato's Atlantis (who according to Plato had married Cleito (a mortal 'aborigine' [i.e. native] of Atlantis), and gave birth to Nauplius, a famous navigator who discovered the art of steering by the Great Bear, a constellation both specifically Northern and connected to Apollo's twin sister Artemis. As an aside on the subject of "aborigines" it should be added that some scholars have speculated that the American Indians progressed from the old world to the new via the vanished continent.
A third connection lies in the name of Danaë, the goddess after whom Danaus was named. Danaë (meaning parched, or she-who-judges), like the virtually identical (in function if not in mythography) Artemis was a moon-goddess. And here, via the Telchines or "enchanters" is a link between the Fates and the phases of the moon, much more clearly established in the similarly Thulian Norse mythology than in Greek, though other Greek derivations for this triple deity are available. Fifty was the number of priestesses who regularly completed a college of Danaë.
The Telchines, nine in number like the sacred invocatory number of Norse Mythology, and like the nine sisters who ruled the Fortunate Isles in Geoffrey of Monmouth's "Vita Merlini", could create mists (Thulian weather-magic) and were known as the "hounds of Artemis", the moon-goddess at whom the wolves howl to this day.
Three further interesting elements are available for consideration, linking the Danaides with later witchcraft. One is the tale that they were condemned for their crimes to carry water in sieves. Philostratus wrote of women so endowed who "went about pretending" to heal cattle, and milking and similar activities into a sieve are one of the commonplaces of medieval witchcraft myths. Making rain and giving water, both traditionally female prerogatives, were also attributed to the Danaides.
The second element lies in the habit of wolves of howling at the moon, and connects with the wolf-Apollo whose omen gave Danaus his kingship. The wolf is a favoured shape-shift, an acknowledged Thulian magical power, familiar from Stubbe Peter and a variety of similar witch-tales. Thirdly we should note the beginning, on 26th September, of the five days of the Thesmophoria, the celebration of women's mysteries second only to that of the Eleusinian festival. Thesmophoria means "due offerings", during which phallic loaves were carried to symbolize the severed genitalia of the sacred king. Here again Apollo Lycius, either the "wolf-Apollo" or Apollo of the light" was celebrated, tying moon, light, wolves, genitals, women and magic together.
The Greeks were aware of Hyperborea and even claimed to have been visited by a Hyperborean called Abaris, who made his way thence to consolidate friendship between the two nations. This ideal is probably more Greek than Thulian in its origins, and is supposed to have been made in response to similar embassies from the Greeks, possibly even the major expedition mentioned to Midas by Silenus. The need for such communication would show that the Greeks regarded Hyperborea as at least a comparable power, if they did not actually fear the potential of the place.
This exchange of visitors is taken from the writings of Diodorus Siculus, who describes Hyperborea as an island some distance from the coast of Gaul and possessed of an amazing circular temple usually identified with Stonehenge. The "winged temple of Hyperborea" mentioned by Herodotus has been identified with Callanish in Scotland, which could easily have been five or six days' sail from the southern mainland of Britain. Diodorus' island was believed to be similar in size to Sicily. If credence is given to this idea, and the island really has now vanished, Charroux' previously noted Thule-destroying cataclysm becomes a little more credible because its scale is now substantially reduced. Has Thule simply vanished? or has it merely diminished in size and become known by a new name in some quarters, the new name of Hyperborea?
To some extent this is confirmed by a book on the subject of Hyperborea which was written by Hecateus of Abdera in around 350 BC. It is inescapable that Thule and Hyperborea inhabit the same region of the world, and the fact that Hecateus wrote about Hyperborea before the first recorded sighting of Thule by Pytheas could serve to enhance, rather than invalidate, the identification of the two places as one by extending the perception of the myth to a time before any physical identification is known to have been made. Yet it could also firmly establish that the two places are separate, and that the nearer to the classical world (Hyperborea) was the first to be discovered.
It is a reinforcement of the possibility that Britain is Hyperborea in that Hecateus mentions Abaris in his description of the Hyperboreans and their land. One objection to this might be that the country, constituted by a large island geographically opposite to Celtic Gaul and larger in size than Sicily, is attributed a climate which is a little too pleasant to have belonged to the place the Romans later called "The Isles of the Dead". But "at the back of the North Wind", the phrase used by Pindar to locate Hyperborea, was still a popular Gaelic synonym for the realm of the dead in the early sixties of our own century, and Hecateus does describe a remarkable temple, rounded in shape, which might well have been Stonehenge. Et even within a similar context there are alternatives. At least two “woodhenges” are currently known, one between Stonehenge and Avebury, the British Isles’ most famous and regarded stone circles. Their construction out of a less durable material today seems a product of consumer society’s throw-away approach. But such was not the case then. Yes, wood was easier to work than stone and, in the then heavily forested British Isles, easier to find. But this immediacy indicates the vitality of the deity or deities being honoured, rater than their their 20th Century disposability.
To some extent I have been required to play devil's advocate in the above material in order to permit the emergence of a clear understanding of Thule and Hyperborea. The possibility which must now be considered is that despite previous attempts at close identification Thule and Hyperborea were not actually the same place. So far we have noted the similarities. here
it is time to examine the differences. Thule was "the white island" and the place where "heaven and earth actually meet". If taken as an actual physical description this could apply to Britain, with the white cliffs of Dover being more often than not the first aspect seen by visitors from the southern half of Europe, and the appalling fog which so often masks the junction of sky and land. Yet the whiteness could refer to volcanic ash, and the meeting of sky and land likewise could be referred to that ash during or immediately after an eruption.
The British Celt questioned by Alexander the Great named his people's greatest fear as being the falling of the sky and the sea bursting its bounds. This sounds for all the world like the tidal disruption and discharge of suffocating ash resulting, once again, from a volcanic eruption. The Roman landing on Iceland could have been upon an island where the shrine and college of Thulian initiates had been totally obliterated by volcanic activity. It might well have been inhabited in the time of Abaris and even that of Sextus Sylla, but devoid of both the inhabitants and their remains by the time of the Roman landing, as it most certainly was for the Irish and the Vikings centuries later. The chronology postulated above thus begins to make sense. As the nearest hospitable land-mass Britain would have been a natural choice for the college of initiates to migrate to.
Pytheas of Marseilles visited Britain and was told about Thule. The description he was given was of somewhere that is more likely Iceland than anywhere else, as the midnight sun is not visible from Britain. Nor is it entirely likely, despite previously expressed arguments, that Britain is going to be five or six days' sail distant from itself. After all, one end of the island could even then have been in touch with the other, as the Hyperboreans were with distant Greece. We are not talking about the days of woaded Britons fighting murderous Picts, but of a time of Thulian unity and harmony.
For a long time Britain was known as "tiule", the Gothic/Greek word for the remotest land known to classical writers. But if Thule was Ogygia was Iceland, and hosted a college of initiates which had moulded the Hyperborean nation, according to Sextus Sylla it is in exactly the right place. If Thule was Ogygia then the Island of Cronus would not have been the Island of Apollo, or Hyperborea. The fact that Sextus Sylla describes an expedition from Britain to Ogygia does not mean that Britain could not have been Hyperborea. His account dates from well after the Roman circumnavigation and the earlier conquest, first conceived by Julius Caesar around 56 BC, when Britain/Hyperborea was still called by the name of Thule.´
As we shall see later, Abaris the Hyperborean is closely identified with Bladud, legendary ninth King of Britain. Apollo was believed to be the tutelary deity of Hyperborea and Abaris was most certainly a priest of Apollo, writing a now lost treatise on the god's sojourns amongst the Hyperboreans. According to Silenus Hyperborea was separate from the linked lands of Europe and inhabited by long-lived giants possessed of a better legal system than anything known in Greece. According to the Old English poem "The Ruin" the city of Bath, supposed to have been founded by Abaris/Bladud, was "the work of giants". The natural home of giants is in the
north, and the legal system used by the Druids was regarded as the best in the known world. Hyperborea was also, according to Silenus, the home of splendid cities and a massive expedition had gone thence (from Greece). The two nations are stated to have exchanged emissaries, and Bladud is known to have founded Bath during the sixth century BC.
A further connection with Boreas can still be seen in places such as Uffington today. The horse is a solar animal and white is a solar colour. The British landscape still contains ancient figures of white horses cut into it. Boreas' most famous shape-shift was a horse. From Britain later expeditions might well have progressed as far as the Yucatan Peninsula. After all, Leif Ericson and Erik the Red reached the North American continent during the 11th century.
If Thule was Iceland, as appears most likely, then the corollary must be that Britain was Hyperborea, both the first recipient of their teachings and eventually host country to the Thulians in enforced exile. The Dark Age (falsely so-called) invaders of Britain, who already had close cultural ties with the inhabitants, were Germanic peoples such as the Angles, Saxons (their banners said to have been emblazoned with white horses), Jutes and Danes. In the "Germania" Tacitus describes an oracular system of divination used by the Germani involving the use of sacred white horses. The horse as a solar animal possesses an association with Apollo, Greek god of prophecy and founder of the Delphic oracle. Horses pull the chariots of both (female) sun and (male) moon in Norse myth. Horse sacrifice was common in Scandinavia, even in the Neolithic period, and the animal was venerated as an earthly totem of the sun. At the opening of a "blót" or feast in Pagan Iceland the "godi" or priest sometimes slaughtered a white horse by cutting the spinal cord with a two-edged knife or splitting the skull with an axe kept especially for the purpose. Even in later times Lanz von Liebenfels’ high altar at Werfenstein was warded by horse-skulls hung from trees.
The time has arrived to try to make some sense of the bewildering assortment of facts and accounts so far set before us. Greece is too far south to qualify for either Thule or Hyperborea. If Thule was Iceland, as appears most likely from an examination of both ancient texts and archaeological discoveries, then the corollary must be that Britain was Hyperborea, both the first recipient of Thulian teachings and eventually the host country to the Thulians in enforced exile. And if there was a shared totem for both places, not to mention the ancient Greek culture which grew from the best of Thulian/Hyperborean teaching, then the Hyperborean Horse of the English hillside is the prime candidate.
This work is not about Thule and Hyperborea of myth and legend, but about the Hyperborea which we who dwell in the British Isles inhabit today. Of necessity we must examine mythic material, but never without remembering that in every myth there is at least a fraction of a truth preserved.
Ancient British Universities - Druids - Arthur, Bladud and Merlin - King Arthur and the Wild Hunt - The Original Merlin "(Bladud) chose the goddess Minerva as the tutelary deity of the baths. In her temples he lit fires which never went out and never fell away into ash, for the moment that they began to die down they were turned into balls of stone." Geoffrey of Monmouth, "Historia Regum Britanniae", II,x. Several writers have claimed that once upon a time a personage called Abaris or Bladud was the founder of Druidism, some of the principal tenets of which are known to be similar in tenor to those of the Pythagoreans. According to his legend this Abaris travelled to meet, and instruct, Hermes Trismegistus, Zoroaster and Pythagoras of Samos. We are told he could become invisible and shape-shift, speak oracles and cure diseases. He is described as a priest of Apollo and at one time his British incarnation Bladud kept pigs, implying an identification with the Frey-boar.
Abaris, though usually taken as a name, is also a title and means "ship-less", i.e. able to cross the seas without resorting to a vessel which floated on them. He also bore the title Aithrobates, or "rider on the wind", implying the exalted opinion which the Greeks held of him. It could also refer to the magical arrow which had been used to slay the Cyclops, presented to him by Apollo. This arrow was the means by which he made his visit to Greece. The single eye of the Cyclops easily equates with the single solar eye in the sky, and the symbolism of its being vanquished by an arrow, representative of a shaft of sunlight, demonstrates the increasing homocentricity of myth and proto-cosmology at the time. The sun itself is no longer as important as its effect upon man.
Another connection postulated by Rutherford is that Abaris/Bladud was a priest of the Celtic deity Belinos, who may be at least partially identified with Apollo. If this, as appears likely, is so then another and much wider possibility has to be entertained. And that is that Abaris/ Bladud, as was claimed by Hecateus of Abdera, was most likely a druid.
Both a solar and lunar connection can be established for Abaris' arrow. Artemis, as both Moon- and Hunt-Goddess, and as a protectress of youth and women, used silver arrows. Women who died a swift and painless death were said to have been slain with one.
Arrows and javelins were both called "streel" in Anglo-Saxon. Both sun- and moon-beams are called "strahl" in German and "stral" in Swedish. In Russian and early English "strael" is an arrow. The gift of Apollo the sun-god of a sunbeam is so apposite as to be almost unremarkable. According to Iamblichus this Bladud, or Abaris, presented the arrow to Pythagoras when the latter was at Crotona. Doubtless Abaris would have had the wit to recognize a child of his patron deity, Apollo, during his continuing relationship with the Sage of Samos.
A note on the apparent dual identity of this character in our saga is required at this point. In all likelihood Abaris' name was actually Bladud or Baldudus, ninth King of Britain according to Geoffrey of Monmouth. Son of Radhudibras, or Lud Hudibras, and the father of
Shakespeare's Lear, this monarch was sent to Greece by his father whilst a youth, presumably after his reported feat of curing himself of leprosy, and studied for 11 years in Athens. Surnamed "the Magician", and universally remarked upon as a great "necromancer" and student of the stars, he was supposed to have taught a variety of magical arts throughout his kingdom. He was also capable of flight and was so noted for his skill in prophecy and mathematical knowledge that a sybil is said to have dedicated a book of prophecies to him.
Assuming Bladud and Abaris to be identical the personage must have made a subsequent visit to Greece to instruct Pythagoras, as the Abaris described by Iamblichus is "of an advanced age" and certainly no mere youth. Bladud too was credited with presenting Apollo's arrow to Pythagoras, and with flying all distances upon the same arrow without suffering from hunger. He was commemorated in the heavens as the constellation Aquila, the eagle, which we shall later recognize as the Roman name for Boreas. It can hardly be coincidence that right next to it is Sagitta, the arrow, nor that both of these stellate figures are (mostly) Northern constellations. In fairness it should be said that Aquila does touch the Equator, but this serves to reinforce the connection between Hyperborea, Thule, Britain and Greece rather than negating it.
Bladud returned from Greece this second time sometime before 500 BC, having built the city of Bath at some point in his career. Although he is claimed to have cured himself of leprosy by bathing in the waters it is also said that he created the hot springs by magic. If this was the case it represents a feat he would not have been capable of before his first visit to Greece at the very earliest. Bath is believed to have been the founding seat of the British Druids, despite being masked under its Roman name of Aqua Sulis. The Celtic Goddess Nemetona was invoked here, as she also was in Pfalz in Germany, though the patron deity of the springs at Bath is variously given as Minerva (Greek Athena), Phoebus and Herakles. Bladud is also claimed to have established a temple at Bath which contained inextinguishable fires and which was dedicated either to Minerva or Apollo.
The healing powers of the springs will be noticed later on, and it is worth remarking that one of the children of Apollo was Asclepius, the god of healing. His mother Coronis (meaning crow or raven, and from the same root as Cronus) was a Thessalian princess who died when he was an infant. Asclepius was educated by the centaur Chiron, and when grown became so skilled in surgery and the use of medicinal plants that he once restored a dead man to life. Bladud returned from one of his (minimum two) visits to Greece with four Athenian scholars, who under his sponsorship and with his direct assistance were together responsible for the foundation of a university at either Stamford, Lincolnshire or within eight miles of the springs at Bath. This university, noted for teaching magic and the liberal arts, persisted until the coming of St Augustine, when it was placed under interdict for teaching the Arian and Pelagian heresies and closed down by the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). Augustine's arrival in England was in 597, and the Pope in question would have been Gregory I, the first monk to attain the Papacy, who ruled from 590 - 604.
The Pelagian heresy involved a denial of the doctrines of original sin and predestination, i.e. the concept that man's nature was corrupted by Adam's fall (which is itself outside Thulian teachings) and, unless redeemed, man will end up in Hell. This doctrine was accepted by the Christian church around the fifth century AD and is used to confirm the need of Christians for Baptism. Pelagius, c.360 - 420, was an English theologian who asserted that every man had free will, and may well have been educated at Bladud's university. Arius (died c.330) denied
the divinity of Christ by claiming that the first created creature was God's divine son, thus setting up a demi-god. Both of these heresies are significant in that they undermine central tenets of Christianity. The elimination of original sin, that pervasive doctrine which enables both guilt and the fall from grace to be established without the individual transgressing in any way, was totally unacceptable to a church attempting to establish itself upon the bones of martyrs. To add a denial of Christ's divinity would have been to compound its potency immeasurably and to produce doctrines which, for the then minority of Christians, would have been totally unacceptable. For the majority, which at the time was Pagan, these
"heresies" would have meant next to nothing and, as inferior doctrines, such impact as they had would have been severely limited. Had it been otherwise both Thulian doctrine and Christianity might have reasonably and creatively co-existed today, enhancing the creative and inspirational input of both. Bladud/Abaris took upon himself the title of High Priest of the country, uniting the royal house with the priesthood after the Hyperborean pattern established by the Boreades. The four scholars became the heads, or instructors, of four orders of priesthood constituted under him. Details on these orders are admittedly scanty, but one was known as the Priesthood of the Oak. With this being the case it is highly probable that the other Priesthoods were named for trees as well.
To indulge in a moment's speculation, these priesthoods might well have appeared as follows. My contention, based on the evidence already presented, is that Abaris/Bladud, being a known Priest of Apollo, would not have needed to establish an order of Priesthood to represent his own function, but might well have chosen to do so. Thus there would have been five priesthoods, representing the four Athenians, whose names have not come down to us, and Abaris, and they would have fulfilled roles which were complementary to his own whilst expanding upon it.
If the trees are linked to deities, which is their only real justification for figuring in the titles of the Priesthoods, then that of Abaris would have been the apple, sacred at Delphi to Apollo. The sheer scope of the spread of related divinatory practises, taking in as it does England, Norway and Mesopotamia, easily confirms this interpretation. Also the healing powers are characteristic of a solar deity, and the spread of myths regarding the apple make it an obviously valued fruit. And should we choose to accept that the Isle of Avalon, which may also be Tir Nan Og or Hy Brasil, the Celtic Otherworld Island, is Britain, we should remember that one of the names which Thule possessed was Avalon, the "Isle of Apples".
Another of the Priesthoods would have related to the ash, which grows right across the known range of Thulian culture in Europe and Scandinavia. Sacred to Poseidon in Greece and Odin in the Northlands it also manages a connection with the Norns, or Fates. There is so much interlinked material to be had from Norse and Greek mythology that it is often difficult to discern what is relevant and what is not. But if we can accept that the "Ygg" of Yggdrasil derives from the Greek "hygra" we begin to establish a link with the four (or five) classic elements, which in turn would help to explain why there should be five different priesthoods. The apple, already noticed, would be a fire-tree, being solar. If the ash, a singularly thirsty tree, is taken for water then there are only three elements left to interpret. Depending upon whether the belief-structure under consideration is Northern
or Southern the other three elements would be earth, air and spirit or ice. That parts of the ash were used for treating coughs and intestinal complaints only serves to confirm the watery association.
The laurel has close traditional links with both prophecy and victory/celebrations. Its leaves were chewed by the Delphic pythoness. Those approaching her also chewed the leaves and wore laurel wreaths, as did Apollo after the death of Daphne. Placed beneath the pillow they bring pleasant and prophetic dreams and the gift of poetry. As a symbol of victory they are a familiar classical symbol in both art and existing popular culture.
The laurel's ability, growing just outside a house to prevent quarrels amongst the inhabitants, has been noted, but this, together with its other uses and attributes, are essentially ephemeral. The Pythoness would imply a female deity for this Priesthood, as would the fact that this was the tree which Apollo's lost-love, Daphne, was changed into.
Victories and triumphs become displaced in the popular and political mind, hence the murder of the triumphant (at one time) Julius Caesar. Dreams and prophecies also diminish in relative importance. Only poetry, the words spoken by the skalds and bards, remain in any permanent way to thrill the hearer as they traverse the element of spirit. The Southern spirit has at least some equation with the Northern ice as both appear, in physical terms, possessed of a transience which makes them potent, even destructively so on occasions, during the period of their endurance.
The English oak and those found in the Mediterranean area vary widely in leaf-shape and other characteristics. This may even be the reason why Druidism never established the same popularity further South that it did in Northern climes. Oak, with its associations with Thor and Tyr, twigs used for sprinkling the blood sacrifice and its traditional role as host to some of the best mistletoe, is undoubtedly the most earthy of the trees considered so far. It is most often struck by lightning and is the archetypal Druidic tree, taking its name from the Greek word for oak. This is the typical wood used for houseframes, casks, household furniture and other items which are required to endure. It is a byword for strength and reliability.
The yew connects with the element of air in a variety of ways. Its connection with Greek words for bow and arrow points to this, and the connection of its name with the Greek for poison, which is also the root of the modern word toxic, is also apposite. Shakespeare employs a preparation of yew with which Hamlet's uncle poisons his father. In Slavonic folklore the storm-spirit, another air-being, claims the yew as his own. The Druids used divinatory wands (and the wand is representative of air in many traditions) made of the wood.
By examining the trees and their connections a fuller appreciation of the five priesthoods established by Abaris/Bladud has emerged. Each is seen to have different characteristics and to represent a different magical element. And we should not forget that the Thulian Priesthood was both male and female, and that the activities of representatives of the deity of one gender would have been complemented by those of the other. Since Celtic chieftaincy required membership of a royal line the Druids may well have been drawn from that line, again perpetuating the original practice instituted by Boreas. Four is a
number we have already encountered in regard to the Nazi Ordensburgen set up for training the élite. We shall later encounter it as the "tetraktys", or fourness, of the Pythagoreans. We may adduce that it was not Bladud but one of the Athenians who took charge of the Priesthood of the Oak, as the Priesthood of the Oak was said to have been founded by an Athenian This would imply that the Greek word "drus", or "oak" provides an extremely likely derivation for the word "Druid". Certainly it does so much more effectively than any of its competitors, some of which are as unlikely in their application as the Hebrew "derussim", meaning "contemplators".
Bladud reigned for 20 years and, according to a Chronicle of 1543 had the realms of Logres (or Logria) and Albany under his rulership as well as Britain itself. He allegedly died when wings he had made through magic failed in flight, sending him crashing down onto the temple of Apollo in Trinovantum (New Troy, or London). One commentator has remarked that these wings symbolically replaced the magic wheel of the solar disk, the sun-wheel or swastika which we shall later observe amongst the hällristningar. Another explanation is a parallel between the Greek myth of Dædalus and this Northern counterpart. Yet there is also a resemblance here to the Roman Vulcan, possibly introduced by Gothic mercenaries who were serving in the army of Rome. A fourteenth century Icelandic text equates Wayland with Dædalus.
With Abaris/Bladud, on his return to Hyperborean Britain, came the four Athenian scholars, for whom he built a university. The University at Oxford, it was alleged by Rous, dated back to the century after Abaris' forebear Brutus, when King Mempricius (c. 1050 - 1011 BC), one of the sons of the King of Logria, built Beaumont just outside the city walls. Oxford itself, he continued, did not come into being until the Greek scholars who had come hence with Brutus and who had been living at Cricklade, which Kendrick renders "Greeklade", migrated to Beaumont sometime just prior to the Saxon invasions (i.e. in the much later time of Vortigern and Merlin).
It is King Alfred who is credited with the university's foundation in 873 in collaboration with St Neot, appointing St Grimbald as the first Chancellor. He sent one of his sons there and Oxford soon thereafter eclipsed its rivals.
Cambridge University was founded in the year of this world ("Anno Mundi") 4317 or 4321. This dating only appears unusual if we forget that Christianity at one time took the Creation as occurring in 4000 BC. The founder was a Spaniard called Cantaber, an Iberian exile found sailing in Scottish waters by the English King Gurguntius Barbtruc (c. 400 BC, and thus equating to the posited Christian chronology). Becoming Gurguntius' son-in-law he built his town on a river named after himself, the Cant, from which Grantchester and other names are said to be derived. As a patron of learning he gathered scholars in his town and founded a seat of learning. The university is said to have played a substantial part in the conversion of King Lucius (died AD 156) to Christianity.
Mention has already been made of Brutus' supposed ancestral origin via Ham, son of Noah. John Bale (died 1563) accepted the views promulgated by Polydore Virgil that Albion Mareoticus, descended from Neptune, Isis, Osiris and Ham, gave Britain its name before dying in 1708 BC. Another branch of the same family, descending from Noah's son Japhet,
Samothes taught his people laws and knowledge of astronomy and political science. His son, appropriately called Magus, founded Chester, Buckingham and other cities, instructing his subjects in the magical arts. His son Sarrus established schools of philosophy. In turn his son Druys is said to have founded the first order of Druids, and to have sired a son called Bardus, whose role in Druidism and its titles can only be surmised. As an interesting indication of the way in which these early personae were confused and cross-identified by later scholars, we find in the 1577 edition of Holinshed's "Chronicles" a portrait of Bladud labelled for both Bardus and for the Roman commander Claudius Albinus.
Legend has it that the Greek scholars Anaximander (died 547 BC) and Anaxagoras (died at Lampsacus 428 BC) were brought from Athens to Cambridge. They could not have travelled together as their dates are mutually exclusive. Only that of Anaximander is even slightly coincidental with any known chronology offered for Abaris, and it is thus unlikely that either would have been one of the four Athenian philosophers he brought home to Britain. Yet in the same way that we have noted "pyth" as a name-root, it is now time to similarly notice "anax", a Greek word meaning "king" or "regal". Thus Anaxagoras becomes the "king of the market-place". However, additionally anax is the name of a son of the Titans Coelus and Terra, or the Sky Father and the earth Mother. Perhaps this should be born in mind when the personæ who are to follow are considered. His son Asterius, a name which Graves renders as "of the starry sky" or "of the sun", actually helps us to take the Anax Connection deeper.
Anax was the ruler of a kingdom later taken by Miletus, which the latter named after himself. Asterius already has an Apollo link, and in his burial place at "an islet lying off Lade" we have a potential link to Latona/Leto, Apollo's Hyperborean mother. Indeed, Leto is said to have taken her name from that of the island. Miletus was the reputed father of persons named Anaximander and Anaximenes, who lived in the sixth century BC. The philosopher Anaximenes was a pupil and successor of Anaximander and is regarded as the last of the Milesian School founded by Thales. Primarily concerned with the origin and structure of the universe he believed the earth was a plane and the heavens a sphere about the earth. The prima materia was air, which by rarefication grew hot and became fire, and by condensation became water, wind and earth. By being concentrated or diluted it had a significant effect upon all living matter.
By way of Miletus and the Milesians named for him we come, in geographical terms, very close to home. The Milesians are the people credited with displacing the legendary Tuatha de Danaan (the "people of the Goddess Danu" - herself regarded as a Moon and Maiden goddess and thus a Celtic Artemis) from Ireland. In Irish myth the Tuatha originally came either from the sky or from distant islands, and brought with them four treasures: Nuada's sword, Lugh's spear, the Dagda's cauldron and the Stone of Fal, or destiny. Here we have precedents, if not prototypes, for the wand (staff/spear), knife (sword), cup (cauldron) and plate (pentacle/ stone) of later magic. A magical battle including weather magic preceded their fall, with the Danaans raising a "druidic" fog (according to Bonwick) to conceal their land and give it the shape of a black pig. The Milesian magic, being superior, dispelled this illusion and, after conflicts at Drumleen and Teltown, the Milesians landed and took control.
Thus on a physical level, if the tales are to be believed, the children of the Sun God displaced the Moon goddess. And if the Milesians travelled to Eire they were also capable of travelling to the rest of Britain, whether or not these islands constituted Ultima Thule, and even to lands further afield such as Iceland.
Both Anaximander and Anaxagoras were at the very least allied via their thinking and\or discoveries to aspects of Thulian doctrine. Anaximander was a Milesian philosopher and tutor of Pythagoras, as well as being allegedly the first to construct spheres and assert that the earth moved around the sun and that the moon received its light from the sun. He considered the sun to be 28 times bigger than the earth, a number which cannot fail to be identified in retrospect with the Lunar month. He is also credited with the invention of the sundial, first erected by him in Sparta, or at the very least the invention of the gnomon, or spike which projects the sun's shadow on such a device. A natural consequence of this was the discovery of the solstices and equinoxes with which the progress of the year and the seasons thereof is still measured today.
Anaximander wrote a history of the universe which avoided much of the mythic anthropomorphization of his predecessors. He challenged the view of his master Thales that a single element could be the origin of all, arguing that the known elements were constantly opposing and transmuting into one another. For him the universe was symmetrical with the earth unmoving at its centre. Sometimes called the father of astronomy, he drew the first Greek map of the world and speculated about the marine origins of terrestrial life.
Anaxagoras was a Clazomenian philosopher and astronomer, not a known Milesian. But he was a preceptor of the potent influences known to have emanated from Socrates and Euripides. He was acquainted with eclipses, as was his teacher Thales, who is said to have predicted an eclipse of the sun in 585BC. Anaxagoras may well have been the first Greek to employ the twelve signs of the circle of the Zodiac. He is also notable for believing that matter was composed of atoms which varied in nature but was brought together into an ordered universe by a supreme intelligence. Plutarch states that he was the first man to understand and explain in writing the phases of the moon. Like Socrates he was tried for heresy, in his case for implying that the heavenly bodies were of a material nature. This was a result of a stone falling from the heavens in 468BC. As a rational philosopher Anaxagoras concluded, following the as above, so below principle of the Tabula Smaragdina, that the stars must be burning rocks. Fortunately, unlike Socrates, he had a powerful patron in his student Pericles and was fined and banished rather than being condemned to death.
Another factual anax worth mentioning is Anaxilaos of Larissa, in Thessaly, who was exiled therefrom around AD28 and possibly expelled from Rome some five years later. Anaxilaos was regarded as both a Pythagorean and one of the Magi, as well as being an early alchemist. One last, of many, to be recalled here is Anaxilides, an author with a specific interest in philosophers who asserted that the mother of Plato became, à la Vierge Mairie, pregnant by a phantom, this time of Apollo. This was allegedly why Plato was called the "prince (recall the royal connection of the name anax) of philosophers".
Mythical or semi-mythical anax candidates may also be considered. Anaxandrides ("son of the Kingly man") was a cause of the Spartans consulting the Delphic oracle, and Anaxibia "of queenly strength") who was associated with Eurydice, was a sister of Agamemnon born as a result of Artemis' vengeance.
The Anax Connection related very strongly to mathematics and philosophy, both of which had a massive influence upon speculative thought in ancient Greece, where the philosophers were impressed by the degrees of certainty and rigor which appeared to exist in the former. Pythagoras believed that mathematics held the key to understanding reality. Plato, later to become the hero of the Neo-Platonists, claimed that mathematics provided those forms out of which everything was created. Conversely Aristotle held that mathematics related to ideal objects rather than real ones and regarded mathematics as a certainty in its own right divorced from practical reality.
Western philosophy began in Greece, in Miletus in Anatolia, home of the Anax Connection. The first known philosophers were Thales of Miletus and his students, Anaximander and Anaximenes. Present-day knowledge of this philosophical school is based on fragments attributed by later writers. These first philosophers were essetially metaphysicians, exploring nature and seeking for something behind appearance that explained everything. Thales said that the prima materia was water. In the same way that children today experiment to discover static electricity using a comb and scraps of paper, Thales was aware of the force and performed similar experiments with silk and amber. Indeed, the very word "electricity" derives from the Greek word elektron, meaning "amber".
Anaximander argued that the "first cause" was boundless or infinite. Anaximenes claimed that it was air. Subsequent Greek philosophers argued about whether change or permanence was the basic feature of the world.
Before Socrates Greek philosophy was principally concerned with these metaphysical questions. Socrates of Athens was primarily interested in personal values, in questions that affected what a person should do. At that time the teachers, or Sophists, taught how to live successfully without raising the question of the right way of life. Socrates, whilst writing nothing which has survived, is vividly portrayed by his pupil Plato as making people realize that general principles served to justify their conduct. When tried for heresy he showed that his accusers did not know what the charges against him actually meant. The Delphic oracle, that most Thulian of utterances, said that Socrates was the wisest of all Athenians because he alone knew nothing and knew that he knew nothing, whereas everybody else thought they knew something. After his execution his disciple Plato developed the first comprehensive philosophical system and founded the first formal philosophical school. He contended that knowledge must be of universals, not of particulars, in order to be able to recognize characteristics in general. These universals constituted the basic elements, or prima materia, as the later alchemists designated it, from which the world was formed. They were to be known by the mind and not by the bodily organs.
Neoplatonism began a few centuries after Plato's death and stressed the otherworldly and mystical elements of his teachings. As Plato had been a leading student of Socrates, the leading student of Anaxagoras, who was the pupil of Anaximenes, it was perhaps only fitting that his pupil Aristotle, who was directed to Athens by the Delphic oracle, should have developed the most comprehensive philosophical system of ancient times. Aristotle stressed the importance of explaining the changing world that man lives in and spent years studying natural science. He believed he could account for the changes and alterations in this world without either denying their reality or appealing to somewhere else. All natural objects were composed of form and matter, with the changes that took place resulting from the substitution
of one form for another because every natural object had a specific object to achieve. His vision of the Cosmos was one of an ordered striving for perfect rest, or motionlessness, typified by eternal thought. The heavenly spheres imitated the Unmoved Mover and by so doing set the heavens in an eternal spherical motion repeated by individual souls. This vision of the Cosmos remained central to Western thought until Copernicus won respectability for the concept of heliocentricity which we still rely upon today.
Controversial as it may be, the subject of Druidism is certainly as old as the days of Pythagoras, Abaris, Hyperborea and Thule, and is intimately connected. It was regarded as ancient even in the days of Aristotle during the fourth century BC. As with Celtic culture in general this is a subject that must eventually (though for reasons of text management not necessarily here) receive a thorough and detailed study because it has a great deal of information to impart which will be found to be germane to our subject.
The architect John Wood, writing in the eighteenth century and quoted by Hawkins, goes so far as to equate the Druids with Hyperborea: "...Julius Caesar, high priest of Jupiter, and of Rome herself, undeniably proves the Brittanick Island to have been enriched with the great school of learning...neither could I avoid concluding that the Britons and Hyperboreans were one and the same people..." Certainly the Druids were recognized teachers and transmitters of oral wisdom, and had responsibility for educating the sons of chieftains as well as other less exalted pupils.
Greek influence spread throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. Norse influence extended down to the Mediterranean and, in later times, even across to America. Celtic influence, if place-names derivable from Celtic roots are to be credited, covered Europe contiguous with the other two, from Denmark in the North to Italy in the South, embracing the tribal areas which gave their names to Berlin, Paris and Vienna. In examining the evidence for Thule and relating it to Norse and Greek remains it is difficult to avoid complicating the issue still further by introducing Celtic material, and there are some aspects of the Celtic-based doctrines of Druidism which require our attention here.
Whilst Julius Caesar was in a position to make an examination of Druidism at first hand, campaigning in the Gallic War from 60 to 51 BC, a Celtic Druid called Diviciacus, chief of the Aedui, visited Rome and was féted there for his learning by such as Caesar's one-time friend Cicero. Cicero stated that the Druid claimed to have that learning known to the Greeks as physiologia, known to have been studied by both Pythagoras and Abaris, as well as making predictions by both conjection and recognized forms of augury.
Caesar wrote that Druidism was thought to have originated in Britain and then been introduced to Gaul, with those wanting to become proficient in its subjects repairing here to complete their studies and obtain initiation. In all probability one of the reasons behind the Gallic War was to prevent Druidic promotion of Celtic national unification. Archaeology concurs with the idea that Britain was the Druidic homeland, and some of the Druid-related sites in Britain demonstrably predate similar remains in Europe. This makes Britain the island from which Druidism was promulgated, but as Smyth points out, the Celtic peoples emigrated here from Europe. This can only imply that there was wisdom here not obtainable elsewhere within the range of the Celtic peoples or, as Spence postulates, to the peoples of antiquity Britain was an insula sacra, with an arcane tradition akin to that of Egypt and Greece.
Either Druidism originated here in Britain or it was imported to the island by a people not of the Celtic stock. Relate this back to the expeditions to the shrine and college of Ogygia, and to the belief of Diodorus Siculus that this island was Hyperborea. In either case there is a strong possibility that Britain or certain of its inhabitants held knowledge that was sought by those abroad. The clear parallels established between Norse and Celtic or Druidic culture by modern scholars such as Davidson require a common groundwork, relating well to the concept of the diffusing culture of Thule. A link between the oak and Druidism is comparatively easily established. The etymology of "druid" is regularly questioned. The Welsh "derwydd" is a hybrid that can mean "the body of an oak". If we remember that Greek oaks housed hamadryads it's hardly surprising that "dryades", a Greek word allegedly derived from the Celtic word for an oak tree, daur, is also a contender. One old favourite, now somewhat out of favour, is also Greek. The word is "drus" and means, simply, "an oak". The similarity between Pythagorean and Druidic teaching gives pause for further reflection when we consider Pythagoras' native island of Samos was described as "dyoussa" or "clad with oak-trees".
"The Druides performed no sacred Services without the leaves of Oak: and not only the Germans but the Greeks adorned their Altars with green leaves of Oak..." This quotation is from a forgotten scholar called Savage and appears in his book "Dew of Hermon" p.16. It was quoted by the antiquary John Aubrey in "Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme" (begun 1688).
There is a further link of the Druidic oak with Thule, albeit a modern one, which should not be ignored. The symbol of the Thule Gesellschaft (see Chapter 1) was a swastika with curved arms and a Nordic-style dagger enclosed in oak leaves (though some writers, despite the obvious appearance of the emblem in published Thule Gesellschaft material, insist they are actually laurel leaves). Oak-leaf clusters also enhanced the value of German medals. Why? A possible German derivation for the word "druid" is "trowis", a revealer of truth, and the Saxon word "dry", or sorcerer, is found in the modern word "bedridden", which originally meant bewitched or fascinated. The hero is a magical creature, and medals are for heroes.
There was great power, as will be further examined later, attributed to the number three amongst the Greeks, Northern Europeans and Celts. Druidism is popularly regarded as having had three orders - Bards, Seers or Vates, and Druids or priests. Strabo regarded the Bards as singers and poets, the Seers as diviners and natural philosophers, and the Druids as both priests and students of natural and moral philosophy. These could easily correspond to the Pythagorean threefold division of man into body, mind and spirit, though not necessarily in that order. The Druids constituted both a priesthood and a civil authority, holding responsibility for meting out both religion and justice. As with all faiths of the time, including Christianity, the essential rite was a sacrifice made at a consecrated altar in the presence of the people. This feast was held on a holy- or holiday, with its objective being the linking of worshipper to deity through some intermediate sacrament.
Arthur characters (and there are several historical contenders for both roles) is in Gildas' "De Excidio Britonum", believed to have been written about AD 540. Nennius' "Historia Brittonum", written around AD 796, which has already been noted as having a significant effect upon Geoffrey of Monmouth, is another.
The Welsh have always attempted to claim Arthur, Merlin and the whole of British mythology for their own, but if we consider that Geoffrey was working with texts written 600 years before his birth, and the "History" per se contains only eight mentions of the country of Wales and ten of its earlier name of Kambria, then add to this the fact that the "Mabinogion" was assembled around 200 years after Geoffrey was writing, the claim as to which is the earlier source becomes self-evident. And if we consider that Bladud figures in these myths as well then the claim for Britain per se as opposed to the fragment of the mainland now called Wales as the Hyperborean realm becomes much easier to justify.
The tradition of the Wild Hunt is common to many countries, albeit under semi-Biblical names such as Cain's-Hunt and Herod's-Hunt, but specifically it is common to Northern Europe. Riding through the skies, even over what are today such prosaic places as Peterborough New Town, it comprises (in Christian tradition) the souls of the damned being led by the Devil. In British texts it appears both in folk-legend and more historically regarded works such as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
The legend of King Arthur is another of the persistent myths of Britain/Albion. If he existed at all (and the name means "bear" and may well relate to a vanished totem animal of persisting British clans) Arthur was a Romano/British chieftain, homosexual if the myths are accurately interpreted, who stepped into the breach of disorder left after the Roman withdrawal around 440. Both Wales, with its rabid modern nationalism, and England have claimed him for their own.
One of the many versions of his legend, which regularly include Thulian concepts such as the Isle of Avalon, has it that Arthur was allegedly changed into a raven at his death. The association of ravens with mountains left Arthur the "sleeping hero", under a mountain or on a distant (Thulian) isle, who will come to the aid of his country at its time of greatest peril. There is a strong parallel here with the sleeping Cronus, King of Latium, in his mountainous cave, who will preside once again over a Golden Age as he once did in Italy. Arthur and the Celtic Bran virtually coincide here, as England's fall will coincide with the ravens leaving the Tower of London where Bran's head was buried, an impossibility as the ravens' wings are kept clipped. Odin was another candidate for leader of the Wild Hunt. That Arthur became a raven argues a strong association, for Odin was served by two ravens, Hugin and Munin ("thought" and "memory").
Arthur crosses several British traditions. Forgetting the Grail as a Christian interpolation of the Cauldron of Cerridwen, and there is nothing to show that the historical Arthur was a Christian, though there are sufficient "luck" cups, including (too late!) 13th century glass, to account for the Christianized myth, the king was also identified with Wodan/Odin and Herne as leader of the British Wild Hunt. Leadership of the Hunt inevitably became the prerogative of (Pagan) heroes or (Christian)
devils. After all, the hounds were "hell-hounds" (Christian) despite Hel being the Norse Goddess of the Underworld. Gervase of Tilbury terms the Hunt "familia Arturi", or "Arthur's household", and in France it was known by a similar name. Other exploits include an expedition to "Caer Sidhi", the realm of the fairies, to carry off a cauldron (the Cauldron of Cerridwen or 'grail' again!). This relates both to tales of Thor in the Norse pantheon and to legends associated with the Isle of Avalon.
Like the later Robin Hood, originally a Yorkshire bandit taken by tradition further south and attributed motives he never possessed, like robbing the rich to give to the poor, Arthur has had a corpus of myth built onto him. The relevant details which we may draw out all serve to confirm our hypothesis.
The Arthur legend does not obtrude into fiercely pagan and independent Scotland, though that of Merlin does. Nor does it find its way into Ireland, which despite O'Brien's protestations to the contrary is not a contender for being named Hyperborea. Yet the fact remains that Arthur and Odin have suffered at least one identification, as have Arthur and Bran. If we accept, even for a moment, the hypothesis that the British, Greek and Norse myths stretch back to originals based around the Hyperborean dynasty of the Boreades, we should expect to find further parallels available.
In June 1986 several exponents of Arthurian legend came together in London for the "First Merlin Conference". The published anthology of papers presented there provided several fascinating insights into the persona of Merlin which require to be extended. Geoffrey Ashe presented an excellent case for Merlin being identified with Maponos, a deity best described as a British version of Apollo, who had strong links with Celtic myth. Another identification, propounded by R J Stewart and significant for what has gone before, was that of Merlin and Bladud.
Both of these possible interpretations require serious consideration, the first because Apollo is, in classical sources, the primary Hyperborean deity, the second because Bladud, in British sources, is the principal Hyperborean priest-king. Maponos appears in the "Mabinogion" and may well have had cult-centres at two sites in Scotland. His mother Modron was tutelary deity of the River Marne in Gaul, and Ashe makes the valid point that Hecateus of Abdera may well have been speaking of Maponos when he referred to the British Apollo.
In his Celtic incarnation this "British Apollo" Maponus, or Mabon, is unusually referred to as the son of his mother, no father being evident. Merlin was regarded as being "fatherless", with later myths implying that he was fathered on his mother by an incubus, or male sexdemon.
Merlin as a character has always had an enormous impact upon the British psyche. Even Nicol Williamson's steel-hatted version in John Boorman's film "Excalibur" ("...a dream to some - a nightmare to others!") strikes deep at our ambivalent respect for the myth. (Incidentally, the same film, a truly magical interpretation of the myth, makes the valued and valuable point - so often forgotten or misread today - that "the King and the Land are one," meaning that the power which rules the land has an integral understanding of, respect for, and consideration regarding, all its aspects.) Many attempts have been made to discover the "real" (historical) Merlin. Symbolically he is
Mercury, the evening star who takes the place of his twin sister Venus. These two are the male and female pillars of the Qabalistic Tree of Life (see Appendix I). Mercury is also, via Hermes and Hermes Trismegistus, the Egyptian Tahuti, God of Wisdom of the Mystery Schools, as Merlin is for the Arthurian Grail Mysteries of later Christianized times. He is the (not so humble, as he played with the sons of Kings) lad who faced Vortigern's wizards in AD480 and gave Wales its red dragon emblem. He is both Merlin and Myrddin, the original of Tolkien's Gandalf, and Ambrosius (Ambrosia - food/sustenance of the gods). This title is also one which has been ascribed to Arthur, and
is allegedly the name of the brother of Uther Pendragon, Arthur's father. Yet Merlin is also capable of being a host of other characters. After all, the name is more of a generic term than an individual reality. Christine Hartley relates a historical Merlin who is described as "the supreme judge of the North" (surely a descendant of Boreas?) who, like Bladud, was also a swineherd, the keeper or guardian of Ceridwen's great white sacred sow. So we begin to see in Merlin a Bladud. Yet Merlin isn't credited with travelling beyond his native land, setting up a university, flying or any of the other feats which Bladud is supposed to have performed. Or is he?
Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote three known books. Apart from the "Historia" he is also credited with the "Vita Merlini" (Life of Merlin) dated to around 1150, and "The Prophecies of Merlin", which are encapsulated in the "Historia". Both Boreas and his descendant Bladud make brief appearances some fifteen years after the "Historia" in the "Vita Merlini". For the first time Bladud's queen is named, either as Aileron, Alaron or Aleron. The name is etymologically identical to the modern "aileron", the wing-flaps which give aircraft lateral control, and both undoubtedly take their form from a Latin root meaning "wing". In view of Bladud's noted ability to fly this is a most apposite cognomen for his consort and, in all probability, one of her titles rather than simply, as at first might appear, a name.
This mention is found in Merlin's description of the creation of the world, specifically in the passage relating to islands. In this Bladud is connected with the founding of hot springs, not only at Bath but throughout the kingdom, believed to have been of most value to women. He is said to have given them the name of his consort, so some connection between Bladud's queen and healing waters must be assumed. In the same section we find mention of Thule, which is named "...furthest from the sun..." and has the ice of the "sluggish sea" repeated and confirmed once more. Geoffrey is clear that Thule is not Thanet, the Orkneys, Ireland or the Hesperides, which "...contain a watchful dragon, which guards the apples under the leaves...". "The island of apples, (Avalon) which men call the Fortunate Isles...", is mentioned a little further on, but there is no clear delineation as to whether or not this is another name for a land which has already been designated in the description.
Mention of Avalon and Bladud together is far from being a demonstrable proof of any link between them. But a further examination of Bladud and Merlin will establish a link which is much harder to ignore.
Bladud's son was Llyr (Leir). His son was Bran (!). Bladud's origins were, in his youth, humble and leprous. He was an outcast in the same way as is implied for Merlin. In the "Vita Merlini the eponymous central character heals himself in a spring, creating a clear parallel. Both Merlin and Bladud are connected to Druidic practises, the latter allegedly originating them. Prophecy is practised by both, and sacred springs or wells attach to both characters. The "Fortunate Isles" are also "Avalon", the isle of apples, and Bladud (Baldudus) contains the root-word for apple within his name (see Chapter 13). We should also note that Bladon,
or Bladim, is a root of the ancient name for the city of Bath. If an identification of Merlin with Bladud is allowed then the conclusion that Britain and Hyperborea are identical is inescapable. If these two archetypal magicians are one, then so must be their homeland.
"A thorough, in-depth understanding of the runes which extends far beyond the mere level of fortunetelling or even genuine divination, and the ability to decode the pattern of the runes and the logical sequences of the futhark, allows us to see that the runes encapsulate a profound esoteric thought-system." Freya Aswynn, "Leaves of Yggdrasil", 1988.
So far several references have been made to Thulian teachings without any attempt to explain what they may have been. The problem is that they have survived only in the hands of a small body of initiates, who have jealously guarded the doctrines from the eyes of profane outsiders. Without their aid such knowledge as is available can only be pieced together by an examination of the observations of people throughout history who have, of necessity, not really known what they were looking at.
It has been postulated that the Mayans established their culture upon the Yucatan peninsula as a result of fleeing a cataclysm which destroyed their original homeland. This might sound unlikely, but in a better-known and possibly more historically-based myth the Israelites fled Egypt across desert wastes and parted waters, carrying with them the culture which has become modern Judaism. Only men and women die. There is always a way in which knowledge can be preserved and handed down. That is why we still have the Code of Hammurabi and the Hippocratic Oath.
The Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Quiché Mayas, states that the investiture of the ancient rulers could not take place until their claim to rulership had been confirmed during a visit to Thule, according to Charroux. The same author goes further and claims that it was the island of Thule, which he terms the antediluvian Hyperborea, from which the Mayas fled before settling in Yucatan. Certainly their serpent god, Quetzalcoatl, was believed to have been a white man as opposed to a native American, who once inhabited a city called Tulla. This is too close for comfort to the name of the Hyperborean capital (or cult-centre), which is variously given as Tula, Tulan or Thule. It is also worth remarking that the Hyperboreans have been termed the "Great White Ancestors", implying both Northern colouring, the "white island" and the giants who were supposed to inhabit it. The Mayas were thought to have descended from this stock, which was originally localized by tradition in the Northern part of the globe.
The same author (Charroux) made a link which has only recently been postulated by scholarship by embracing the Celts amongst the culture corpus of the Northern peoples. According to Charroux the Celts, being higher initiates than the Hebrews, were aware that the first human being was female, not male, and they termed her Dana or Ana, the original mother. It also coincides with the Pelasgian creation myth, in which it is the Goddess Eurynome who brings Boreas into being by her dancing. To a great extent this would explain the veneration in which woman was held in the North. Also, Diodorus Siculus cited Hyperborea as the birthplace of Leto, mother of the solar divinity Apollo. He also claims that the Hyperboreans constituted the highest caste in antediluvian times, and that both
archaeology and tradition show that the Hyperboreans, and the peoples directly descended from them, were great voyagers and colonizers, dominated the world intellectually and were substantial seafarers. Wirth, whose views influenced Heinrich Himmler, believed that Thulian migrations had spread all over the world, even intermarrying with the original inhabitants of the Pacific Islands to produce the Polynesian peoples of today.
Here we must, if we have not done so before, open the proverbial can of worms. We need to examine some details regarding the legendary Pythagoras, look at Norse magical practices, and refer to known Viking achievements, including their magnificent voyages which led, amongst other things, to the (re?)discovery of America. Here we must record the concept of the "Sun-stone" which aided the Vikings' navigation in cloudy weather. This mineral, now believed to have been that known as cordierite or iolite, which varies in colour from a dark blue to the solar colour yellow, was believed to infallibly locate the position of the sun.
It was to Hyperborea that the Hebrew prophet Enoch was said to have gone, with or without a sunstone, to receive his orders (from God). Enoch visited various Western parts of the world before reaching the Dwelling of the Eternal King in the North. It was here also, between the North and the West, that the angels had received ropes with which to measure the place set aside for the righteous and the chosen. And here we find the further coincidence, or synchronicity, that Thule was supposed to lie at the gateway to other worlds, to be the focus of those earth currents which permitted movement between different spheres of life. Could this not be a valid description of the place where man (Enoch) meets the supernatural (God)? Spence, in relating and interpreting the myth of Atlantis as provided by Plato, identifies the gods of Atlantis with the Greek Titans and the Hebrew "Sons of God" mentioned by Enoch. The idea that they were "fallen angels" occurs in the admittedly fragmentary and synthetic compilation which is the Book of Enoch, and is reinforced by the work of the Jewish historian and turncoat (initially a rebel, he later became a favourite of the Roman Emperors) Flavius Josephus (AD37 - 98).
PYTHAGORAS The time has come for us to discover a new assessment of a venerable historical figure which virtually everyone will have heard of. Best known today for a theorem popularly attributed to him, but by no means definitely his own work (the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle...), Pythagoras of Samos was both the archetypal scholar and the archetypal magician of classical times, although his reputedly sorcerous propensities have been submerged beneath the scholarly interpretations and regard of today. Philostratus' "Life of Appolonius of Tyana", the classical vampire (Lamia) slaying mage, was, according to Isidore Lévy, a close copy of Appollonius' own "Life of Pythagoras", now lost.
The birth of Pythagoras was the subject of a Pythian prophecy made to his father Mnesarchus, a wealthy jeweller, who was informed that his wife, Parthenais, was carrying a child who would surpass in beauty and wisdom any which had ever lived. Pythagoras' mother, Parthenais, was from thence forward known by the name of Pythias, and Pythagoras, whose name according to Rutherford means "mouth of Apollo", thus providing a direct reference to the Delphic Oracle, became regarded as the son of Apollo himself. Bladud the Hyperborean was easily able to recognize a child of his patron deity when he made his visit to Greece by riding on a flying arrow.
The similarity of the names Pythias and Pytheas, the latter being the first recorded as having
sighted Thule, is scarcely coincidental. The name of Pythagoras himself has the same root, and Pythonissa, often cited as the proper name of the Witch of Endor, is also closely related. They derive, as accurately as can be established, from "putho", an old name for Delphi, stressing the connection of both prophecy and Apollo with their personalities. The snakename Python is from the same source, and the Python has been claimed to be an avatar of Boreas, the destructive though paradoxically also creative North Wind ("the North Wind shall blow and we shall have snow...") but any attempt by Boreas to exterminate his future hierophant is unlikely.
The Python was sent by Hera, who was jealous of Zeus coupling with Leto, to destroy Leto and her children, the twins Apollo and Artemis. Apollo, though still an infant, took bow and arrows and severely wounded the Python. Pursuing it to Delphi, according to one source sonamed because of Delphyne, the Python's mate, he slew it beside the sacred chasm. The symbolism of a sun-god destroying ophidian darkness shrieks out from this tale. Funerary games were instituted there on a regular basis to commemorate the slain monster. These were one of the four great athletic and artistic festivals of ancient Greece, held every four years halfway between the Olympic Games. There were contests in running and throwing, as well as singing, music, poetry, and chariot racing. The winners were awarded crowns of Apollo's bay leaves (sweet laurel), and the games were regarded as being dedicated to the god. The first Pythian Games were held in 582 BC and were open to all Greek citizens. Eventually they admitted people from other civilizations as well. They were abolished as a result of the advance of Christianity during the fourth century AD.
The Delphic oracle can be said to have been a primary influence upon the history of the world for centuries. Located in Phocis, on the lower slopes of Mount Parnassus near the Gulf of Corinth, Delphi was regarded as a sacred city by the ancient Greeks, probably because it was regarded as the omphalos (or navel) of the Earth. The city was sacred to Apollo, god of prophecy and patron of philosophy and the arts, whose most famous temple and prophetic shrine were there. The Delphic Oracle was allegedly consulted by Oedipus, Socrates, and other well-known ancient figures, and gave its messages in such ambiguous ways that it could seldom be proven wrong.
Phocis, where Delphi is situated geographically, was an agriculturally rich district of central ancient Greece, lying in the Cephissus valley and Crisa plains and containing Delphi, Elatea, and Mount Parnassus. Other states had treasuries at Delphi, notably Caere (modern Cerveteri, or Agylla in Greek). In those days it was the Etruscan city of Cisra and, with its neighbour Tarquina, was the chief city of southern Etruria. In close contact with Greece, Caere was the only Etruscan city which had a treasury at the Greek sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi.
The Delphic eminence withstood the scrutiny of Celtic (Druidic?) invaders who entered its precincts and treasuries in BC 279, only to fall to a later, newer god, being destroyed by the Christian emperor Arcadius in AD 398. This appreciation of Delphi by an apparently completely different culture is important to this present work, demonstrating as it does a compatibility between outwardly (historically speaking) incompatible peoples such as the Celts and the Classical Greeks. Perhaps, as was always claimed for it, Delphi really was the omphalos, or navel, of the universe. Perhaps here we should remark that the reputedly sorcerous propensities of Pythagoras have been submerged beneath the scholarly interpretations and regard of today, yet he was, in his
time, well noted for them. Like Cronus and the Celtic Gwyn ap Nudd, who was "king under the hill", he spent time in a cave, where he dwelled alone and kept abreast of current affairs only by information he received from his mother Pythias. This was claimed to be because he required time to absorb the theory of heliocentricity which Abaris is said to have imparted to him. Zoroaster is supposed to have behaved in an identical way by retiring to a cave when Abaris earlier expounded the same theory to him. It was supposed that Pythagoras could write in letters of blood upon a looking glass which, when presented to the full moon, showed the same writing upon the moon's disk. By magical words he showed control of other living things by taming a bear and stopping the flight of an eagle. It was also claimed that he appeared on the same day at the same time in both Crotona and Metapontum, a feat attributed to his possession of Abaris' arrow.
Pythagoras is the first person known to have used the word "philosopher", or "lover of wisdom". He is also said to have possessed a remarkable wheel by which he was able to predict future events, and to be able to speak to the spirits of the water. He was most probably the precursor of Faust and various lesser others. Certainly many have seen his influence in the foundation of Druidism. He was taught by Egyptian priests and initiated in Babylon into the mysteries of both the Chaldeans and the Magi. He became a disciple of Zoroaster before returning to Greece and, according to Diogenes Laërtus, studied under Druidic priests as well. Should this sound too formal and academic an education it is worth recalling that amongst the many methods of deriving prognostications postulated by this proto-vegan was the shamanic method of divination by delirium, which parallels that of the Delphic pythoness. In Samos, the heavily-wooded island he loved and which was referred to by his contemporaries as "dyoussa" or "clad with oak-trees", he found that a man cannot be a prophet in his native land and relocated to Crotona in Italy. Crotona is the only natural harbour between Tarsus and Sicily, and its name means "mouthpiece of the Pythian", thus reducing the possibility that it was either a random or an ill-considered choice. Reinforcing this are the extra details that Crotona, at the time, was both a health resort and a cult-centre of the Orphic Apollo.
In order to understand more fully the significance of this location we need to examine the character of Orpheus, a Thracian musician whose magical skill on the lyre enabled him to charm natural objects such as trees, rivers and stones, as well as wild beasts. The son of the muse Calliope, his father is variously identified as a Thracian river-god and Apollo. Orpheus married the nymph Eurydice and almost succeeded in charming her out of Hades with his skill. Afterwards he rejected all women and died either by being torn to pieces by Thracian women or dismembered by Maenads, priestesses of Dionysus, who resented Orpheus's advocacy of the worship of Apollo. Orpheus's singing head and lyre floated to Lesbos, where an oracle of Orpheus was established. He was the founder of the Orphic mysteries, initiation into which entailed living an ascetic life which, by freeing man of his earthly nature, would liberate the divine soul to pursue perfection through a cycle of incarnations.
At Crotona Pythagoras founded a school of initiates which was also, as Druidism was claimed to be a few centuries later, a fraternal organization. Persecuted by Phalaris, he had (Thulian) foreknowledge that he would not die at that time and, according to legend, was defended by Abaris the Hyperborean himself. Pythagoras was eventually killed as the result of activities led by a prominent local citizen named Cylon whom he had refused entry to his school. Cylon gathered a mob together and
set fire to the academy, killing all but two of those within. According to different accounts its leader was either within and perished with the majority or later voluntarily starved himself to death. Most of his secrets perished with him, although the two of his disciples who had escaped the burning of the academy, Archippus and Lysis, were able to hand substantial amounts of it on to future generations, including such notables as Hipparchus, Plato and Aristotle. Yet even after his death Pythagoras was believed to have appeared in resurrected form on a minimum of two occasions.
The Pythagoreans were amongst some of the most influential peoples of the ancient world. Pythagoras, well apart from the famous theorem, postulated a theory of the universe based upon the Thulian concept of heliocentricity, with the planets moving around the sun in elliptical orbits. His contemporaries discounted it, and it was not until the sixteenth century that it was proven to be correct. One authority at least has it that this doctrine was communicated by Abaris the Hyperborean to Zoroaster. Eventually we shall perceive that Thulian and Hyperborean doctrines were doubtless amongst the foremost parts of the corpus of knowledge in the Pythagoreans' possession.
Number was, for them, a first principle of the universe, because it was upon number that the harmonies which kept the universe established depended. They similarly related to art, music and philosophy and endowed the individual with wisdom. The Pythagoreans also believed in reincarnation from one human body in one life to another in the future, as opposed to the more basic metempsychosis of their contemporaries.
The transmigration of souls, also known as metempsychosis, depends upon the idea that a soul can pass out of one body and enter into another, be it human or animal, or even enter into an inanimate object. This is a prime example of Orphic belief and was valid for both Plato and the Pythagoreans. In its most fully articulated form it appears in Hinduism, having been adopted, according to the evidence of the Upanishads, around 600 BC.
Central to the conception of human destiny after death is the belief that human beings are born and die many times. The soul is regarded as an emanation of the divine spirit. Thus each soul passes from one body to another in a continuous cycle of births and deaths, with its condition in each existence being determined by its activities during previous births.
A problem with this doctrine for any Thulian is that transmigration is closely interwoven with the concept of Karma, which is regarded as a control mechanism for the living, rather than a valid doctrine for the eternal, involving as it does the inevitable working out, for good or ill, of all action in a future existence (the "sins of the fathers" is another such). The horrific aspect of both is that the expiation required is for bad deeds done in an earlier existence (hopefully singular!) and that the cycle of karma and transmigration may extend through innumerable lives. Ultimately the goal is the reabsorption of the soul into the fount of divinity from whence it sprang.
Pythagoras himself claimed past lives for himself, including Aethalides son of Hermes and Euphorbus the son of Panthus of Troy, who had killed Patroclus the friend of Achilles during the siege. The Trojan connection has a special relevance for Hyperborea, which we shall reach eventually. The Pythagoreans were aware of Hyperborea and claimed to have been visited by a Hyperborean called Abaris, who made his way thence to consolidate friendship between the
two nations in response to similar embassies from the Greeks. Abaris is said by Hecateus of Abdera to have been an instructor of Pythagoras. Hecateus was writing some two hundred years later, but his mention of Abaris is the closest to Pythagoras' own time still extant. Abaris first met Pythagoras before the latter went to Egypt. Later, when Pythagoras was being persecuted by Phalaris, it was Abaris who defended him.
Serpents are closely associated with most forms of early worship, be they described as Draconian or Ophidian. After all, was not the serpent created in advance of Adam and Eve? An engraving in Paul Christian's "Histoire de la Magie" (Paris, no date) has a startled and obviously drugged Pythia, or Delphic sybil, wrestling for her answer with two substantial serpents whilst elderly sages look on.
Let us examine the concept of the serpent for a moment or so. As a symbol it has always been potent in the mind of man, whether as the Greek Oroboros eating its own tail, and thus displaying a ring-symbol of eternity, or as a phallic symbol, or as the world-encircling Midgard Serpent of Norse myth. There is also Fafnir, slain by Sigurd, who guarded the Nibelungen hoard and whose blood gave Sigurd the ability to understand the language of the birds. This creates an anomaly in that later science has identified the reptilian dinosaurs as the ancestors of today's bird-life, a fact which could not have been known at the time. Or could it? And we should not forget that these creatures also had lesser mythical equivalents.
Apollo was worshipped under the form of a dragon at Delos. A dragon (from the Greek "drakon", from a verb meaning to see, watch or, more remotely, to flash in the same way as reflected sunlight) guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, who were nieces of Boreas. Dragons were also fabled to breathe fire and had a serpent's tail, like certain of the centaurs and the feet of Boreas. They were also winged and possessed the power of flight. This relates them to the sun, Abaris, the Python killed by Apollo, the Pythoness-prophetess and many other aspects of the matter currently under discussion. In the Pelasgian creation myth Eurynome created the great serpent Ophion by catching hold of Boreas and masturbating him between her hands. "Orm" or "worm" are synonyms for both dragons and serpents, thus also identifying snakes with dragons.
None of this is actually irrelevant. The entire subject of Pythagoras and the Delphic oracle is bound up with a comparable study. That is the Northern sorcerous practise known to scholars as seidr, which we will shortly explore at exhaustive length. Seidr is, for men, draconian. For women it involves a process of coming to terms with their own bodies and sexuality which could easily be regarded as unfashionable. Paradoxically enough it is often easier for men to understand the potential of women's bodies than it is for women themselves, possibly because men have created so many of the myths which surround the female anatomy.
Seidr, whilst Northern, has other parallels. Its few modern exponents prefer to concentrate upon the trance rather than the physical aspects and thus limit its potential without truly understanding it. The power of the Delphic Python is still alive, despite the funerary games held in its honour. After all, what are/were those games but an attempt to maintain its (relevant) vitality?
There is one certainty upon which a reconstruction of Thulian teachings may be founded. It has been shown that Thulian influence was behind much of what transpired in Nazi Germany. The swastika, the archetypal symbol of Nazism, was a Thulian emblem par excellence. Bearing this comparatively recent history in mind we must now return to Scandinavia in the early days of the Christian era and examine whatever traces of Thule we can discover there.
So far the most outstanding feature of Thulian doctrine to emerge from the examined sources is that of the gift of prophecy. Whilst this has been essentially oracular in nature there is no reason to suppose that the Thulian college stated to have existed on Ogygia didn't teach its students other methods of divination. In the "Germania" Tacitus mentions two methods which were peculiar to the Germanic peoples as early as the first century AD. One is oracular and the other is not, but both are given in the same chapter of his work.
The oracular system of divination used by the Germani involved the use of sacred horses. The horse has always been regarded as a particularly solar animal, stressing an association with Apollo. Horses pull the chariots of both sun and moon in Norse myth, whilst Thor's chariot is drawn by goats and Freya's by cats. Horse sacrifice was common in Scandinavia, even in the Neolithic period, and the animal was venerated as an earthly totem of the sun. When the Scandinavian peoples were finally converted to Christianity, mostly after AD 1000, the priests of the new religion felt it necessary to prohibit the consumption of sacred horseflesh. This taboo is still common in England, and the English tend to regard their European neighbours across the Channel as somewhat beyond the pale for breaking it. Eating horseflesh in the dark ages implied an innate Paganism, for horse was the sacrament of the sun in exactly the same way that bread was the sacrament of Christ. Both were magically transmuted by sacrifice.
The Hyperboreans were alleged by Pindar, in the "Pythian Odes", to have sacrificed asses to Apollo. In "The Chariot of the Sun" Gelling makes the inference from this allegation that Pindar was echoing the practice of sacrificing horses to the sun in the far North. Certainly the horses in Tacitus' account were strongly associated with the gods. They were kept in the sacred groves of the Germani and not defiled by being put to work of any kind. Their maintenance was borne out of the public purse and the purpose of their existence was purely oracular. The nobles and priests didn't presume to consider themselves as more than mere servants of the gods, but the pure white, unblemished, sacred horses were privy to the gods' very counsels, and were thus in a position to relay the will of the deities to man.
The horses were harnessed to a sacred chariot and the high priest, or king, would walk beside this and endeavour to interpret the neighs and snorts of the holy beasts. Tacitus is adamant in his statement that this was regarded as the most reliable and trustworthy of all the Germanic systems of divination. The oracle of the solar horse was supreme.
Another kind of Germanic prophecy mentioned by Tacitus is distinctly poetic. By a chant called "baritus" they were said to both awaken their spirits for battle and, by listening to the sound of the chant as it was uttered, be able to prognosticate the outcome of the impending conflict. This implies that the chant, like the outcome, was variable. It was performed with the chanters' shields held in front of their mouths to increase the volume of the sound and was designed to produce an intimidating roaring which would severely frighten the enemy.
The third method cited by Tacitus is one for which the Germani also had a high regard. It involved procuring an omen by the casting of lots. Casting lots was also a subsidiary method used at Delphi for minor questions that would not engage the attention of the pythoness.
The Northern method was that a branch would be cut from a fruit-bearing tree and then divided up into small pieces. These were then marked with different symbols and thrown at random onto a white cloth. The rank of the person performing and interpreting the casting would depend upon whether it was a tribal or merely family oracle that was required, If it was for the entire tribe, or state, then the oracle would be wrought by the high priest, who averted his gaze and offered a prayer to the gods whilst picking up three of the pieces. The signs inscribed on them would then be interpreted. Tacitus states that the high priest looked at the sky so that his choice would not be influenced as he made the selection. Possibly he was staring at the sun. In the case of a
private or family oracle the same procedure was followed by the head of the family, who took the role of the high priest for this purpose. Although the systems involving the sacred horses and the marked pieces of wood appear to differ in almost every respect there is one indisputable common factor. Both in some way required the presence of the colour white. The horses had to be white and undefiled. The pieces of wood had to be cast onto a white cloth. White is the colour of light, the traditional and obvious attribute of the sun. The oracles, like the sunlight, embraced the whole spectrum of family or tribal requirements.
From the first century AD some kind of link is required to take us forward in our investigation of Thulian doctrine into later ages. This link is present in Tacitus, though only by implication, and as well as taking us forward it will also take us back in time to the college of initiates mentioned by Sextus Sylla. This link is the symbols on the pieces of wood.
The Thulian initiates, sent as emissaries of a greater wisdom into a world as yet only partcivilized and in urgent need of guidance, carried with them a knowledge of signs and symbols. In the unwritten ages of Germanic history the Northern peoples had no knowledge of writing and possessed no script. It was the Thulian initiates who carried the art of writing to them, adapting the knowledge they bore to suit the stage of advancement of their subjects. So it was that over a period of many centuries the strange symbols of the Bronze Age Northman became an individual and magically-potent epigraphic script.
In the centuries before they were ready for the complexities of the written word, a word being a group of symbols having one meaning as opposed to a single symbol having one meaning, and thus permitting a greater sophistication of use than mere symbols alone, the Germanic peoples made use of symbols scratched upon the faces of outcrops of rock. These symbols are known to archaeologists and paleographers technically as the Hällristningar, or rock-carvings. With the passage of time and the approaching readiness of the Germani these symbols were slowly but certainly metamorphosed into runes, the highly-individual and potent writing of the North. Unlike Egyptian hieroglyphics or Chinese pictograms, but like the Greek, Latin and Hebrew alphabets which descended from Phoenician script, they use one sign for one sound as we do today.
As Tacitus doesn't specifically name the symbols marked on the strips of wood as runes, it may be asked on what authority such an assumption can be made. The first identification of the "notae" of Tacitus with the runic script goes back as far as the ninth century, when the author of "De Inventione Literarum", reputed to have been Hraban Maur, stated that runes were indeed the notae. His view has since been supported by several modern authorities, notably Elliott. Usually in the North divination by runes was termed divination by casting
In fairness it must be said that several different theories regarding the origin of runes have been put forward. One opinion is that they were transmitted into Scandinavia from Northern Italy and are derived from a North Italic script. This is based upon the discovery at Negau, near the (once) Austro-Yugoslav border, of a cache of 26 bronze helmets in 1812. One of these, Helmet B or No.22, bears an inscription in North Italic writing dated variously from 500 BC to the first century AD. Whilst the symbols are North Italic, and show marked similarities to the runic script, the inscription forms the words of a Germanic votive formula. This could easily be either a Thulian cult script travelling South from Scandinavia, or the same travelling North from the realms influenced by the Pythagoreans.
Another view of the origin of runes is that the "futhark" or runic alphabet (so called from the order of the first six letters - F U Th A R K) was derived from the Goths of Southern Russia. Three of the earliest runic inscriptions have been found on spearheads discovered along the route connecting the Russian Goths with their tribal cousins in the Baltic area. Again, both locations were subjected to Thulian influence. Runes have also been said to resemble Greek cursive script. von Friesen attempted to compare the shapes of 16 out of the 24 letters of the futhark with Greek cursive characters, and whilst his attempt is usually regarded as unconvincing it is at least reminiscent of the Thulian influence upon the Pythagoreans once again. Yet another theory for the origin of the runes is that they were consciously invented in Scandinavia in much the same way that Wulfila invented the Gothic alphabet around AD 360. Wulfila was an active proselyte of the Christian faith and was appointed Bishop of Lower Moesia in 341, remaining so for about 40 years. It is interesting, even amusing, to note that amongst those who have tried to explain the sources from which he drew the Gothic letter-forms are some who derive them from the runes. If the runes were consciously invented by an unknown Scandinavian, then certainly the hällristningar would have served as models.
Dating the origin of runes isn't easy. Whilst they have been found all over Europe from Rumania and the Western Republics of what was the USSR to Eire and the Isle of Man, none of the extant inscriptions in the Common Germanic futhark contains any reference to known historical persons or events. Even allowing for the establishment of relative chronologies based on style by archaeologists, and the more effective techniques available to philologists, the dating of runic inscriptions is rarely more than, in the true sense, an educated guess. Runic writing must predate the earliest inscriptions by a substantial period, certainly long enough to precede those phonological changes which separate even Gothic from the rest of the Germanic tongues. Historically, the script must therefore predate the second or even the first century AD. This can only confirm that the runes are actually the notae mentioned by Tacitus in AD 98. There is little doubt that the runes are Thulian in origin. Every theory so far put forward to account for their emergence links back in some way to the dissemination of the doctrinal wisdom of Thule. The hällristningar contain many rune-like symbols, including the surviving forms of the Germanic T and Z runes, and there is also that favourite Germanic symbol, the swastika, pointing in exactly the same direction and set at the same angle as it was used on Nazi banners and insignia. This can only give the lie to the commonly expressed view that Hitler "took a good symbol and perverted it to evil" by reversing it.
Even the etymology of the word rune points out the magical and ritualistic origins of this Thule-inspired script. Again, several different interpretations have been put forward, but they all show similarities. In early English and related languages rune meant a mystery or secret. This air of secrecy was preserved in the now archaic phrase "to rown", or whisper, in the ear. This calls to mind the ancient cult of the Horse-Whisperers, with their mysteries built around the solar totem. The phrase remained in common usage until near the end of the seventeenth century, and by an odd coincidence it was about this time that the runes were forced underground in Iceland as a result of ecclesiastical proscription in 1639.
Some doubters may wish to argue that rune is a comparatively modern term, but we know from contemporary inscriptions that it was used by the Germanic peoples themselves. Such inscriptions can be found on the Einang Stone from Norway and on the Jarsberg and Noleby Stones from Sweden. In Old German "runa" meant mystery or secret, as it did in English. In Old Norse it derives from "runar", a magical sign. Runes are often found in conjunction with unresolved symbols from the hällristningar from which they originated. Amongst the most regularly favoured of these signs is the swastika. It is used to precede the words "alu god" or magic good on the Vaerlose Clasp, found at Sjaelland in Denmark. Here it is set flat on one of its arms, but facing in the regular Thulian direction, - again in exactly the same position as it appears on some Nazi banners. The swastika occurs again on the Dahmsdorf Spearhead together with the magic weapon-name "ranja" or router (of the foe). Those who might be tempted to object that by using the term "Germanic" I am not referring to Germany should note that this spearhead was found near Brandenburg. It dates from about AD 250.
Any serious approach to Northern Magic, Runecraft and Thule/Hyperborea inevitably involves some understanding of the two principal forms of Dark Age Scandinavian magical practise - galdr and seidr. Galdr is the magic of charms, a mixture of poetry and sorcery. It has an implied acceptability for the peoples amongst whom it was found in the North, certainly in pre-Christian times, though that acceptability doesn't imply a universal welcome, as is almost inevitably the case with magic.
Poetry was a powerful weapon in both the Druid's and the Northern magician's armouries, and the majority of charms and incantations were in verse. This is one area where Northern magic differs radically from the reliance on long lists of "Barbarous Names of Evokation" which was the stock-in-trade of the Qabalist or Medieval sorcerer or, going still further back towards Thulian times, their progenitors as listed in Egyptian magical papyri and Gnostic texts. Seidr is both a complementary practice and an exact opposite to galdr. Whilst galdr is acceptable, seidr is regarded with total anathema. Despite its impeccable mythological origins it positively reeks of antisocial and perverse behaviour, being regarded as unsuitable for men to practice, and only dark hints as to its nature currently survive. It has been conjectured that seidr was extremely obscene in nature, even when practised by women, and it is so described by Vikings who were extremely moral and correct at home, whatever they might have been accused of when abroad.
There are several possible explanations for this attitude. One is that seidr was the magic of the Vanir as opposed to that of the Aesir. Ynglinga Saga [cap.IV] attributes its teaching to Freya, far and away the leading sex object of the Norse pantheon. Freya was capable of great feats of sexual indulgence, frequently transcending the bounds of morality, as when she slept with the four dwarfish craftsmen who created the necklace Brisingamen in order to secure it for herself.
Another reason is found later in Ynglinga Saga [cap.VII], when Odin's powers as the archetypal Norse magician are described. With his various galdr accomplishments listed the author, Snorri Sturluson, adds that Odin also understood the practises in which the most potent magic was to be found, and used them himself. Its purposes appear mostly dark grey by modern standards, if not positively black, and include the thoroughly Thulian foreknowledge of an individual's destiny, the reverse of healing in the imposition of death, illness, misfortune, bad luck, and in addition the befuddlement of mind and bodily strength. Yet the use of seidr left a debility in the practitioner afterwards, making it unsuitable for a warrior race, and thus its practise in the North was usually left to women, with time and custom eventually establishing the opinion that seidr was unmanly.
Before taking Snorri's statements at face value and passing on we should pause to consider whether this debility brought about by seidr has any further implications. In many respects seidr is closely allied to shamanism, and both make use of trance states. Trance, to a warrior, is unmanly, leaving him unprotected if attacked. Prophetic dreams encountered in sleep are one thing. Even warriors have to sleep from time to time. But to deliberately expose oneself to risk in order to practise magic would have been quite unacceptable. The debility generated by the art could just as easily be the absence of the travelling seidr-practitioner from the physical body as anything else. As Freya Aswynn points out, seidr has a literal meaning of seething or boiling, with connotations of strong emotion which could bring either trance or exhaustion in its wake.
Existing examples of seidr come to light in Salus' Introduction to the Taylor/Auden Elder Edda, where the tenth and sixteenth Havamal charms are cited. The tenth charm deals with keeping spirits from their rest, and the sixteenth with the sexual plundering of a young girl the magician finds desirable. These two, with their implications of death and sexuality, begin to provide an insight as to seidr's versatility and content.
That seidr should be regarded as unmanly presents something of a contradiction, for it was practised by Odin, the premier war-god of the Norse pantheon as well as its premier magician. Allfather Odin is neither unmanly nor weak, and for his followers to ignore an ability he possessed is both tacit denigration and implied insult. Yet it wasn't necessary to worship Odin in order to work seidr, and whilst in later times seidr came to be almost exclusively a female art there is no reason to suppose that this was always the case.
The information available on those who used any form of Northern magic is limited to scattered references in the extant literature. We know very little about those who cut runes on a variety of objects over a period of around 1500 years. Whilst we frequently know their names, as many runestones and inscribed objects are signed, our knowledge frequently stops there. Only occasionally, as with Egil Skallagrimsson and the witch Thurid in Grettis Saga,
The same is true for whatever initiation or instruction they underwent. Some, from their remains, were simply the secular masters of a craft. Others show a skill and knowledge of Norse magic which leads us to speculate as to their powers and the means by which they may be rediscovered. Today's moral and sexual attitudes, despite the threat of AIDS, Herpes II and the more traditional venereal diseases, can accept seidr much more readily than was the case with the society in which it gained its reputation.
Strom's invaluable monograph on Nid, Ergi and Old Norse Moral Attitudes demonstrates that seidr is, in masculine terms, allied to the passive female role in homosexual activities. Yet this relates better to its historical context than it does to the modern practitioner. Buggery was something a Viking indulged in to shame an enemy, with whatever sexual gratification it afforded being secondary to the known performance of the act. But this is far from being the whole of seidr, as a further examination of runic practises will demonstrate.
It is the perversity of seidr which, together with the employment of debilitating emotions and trance states, makes it ergi for a man. When used of women ergi is virtually synonymous with nymphomania in the historical texts. For men there is an implication of the ultimate in sexual filthiness and, accordingly, unmanly behaviour - i.e. voluntarily taking the female role in homosexual acts.
The Runatal includes an injunction that one should know how to stain or colour runes (an attribute of the "fimbulthulr" or mighty thul - see below) when employing them for magic. The best-known example of staining runes was that used by Egil Skallagrimsson at Bard's feast on Atley Isle in 934. His love-hate relationship with Gunnhild Gorm's-daughter, wife of the famous Erik Bloodaxe, began there when he saw a woman who strongly appealed to him and she saw a magician who could reveal her to her sorcery-hating father-in-law, Harald Fairhair, as a witch. Because of this she had a poisoned cup sent around the table to Egil, who cut, charmed and stained runes, having anticipated a threat from a woman he knew to mean him harm by eye-contact alone. He stained the runes by stabbing his hand and rubbing the runes he'd cut on the cup with his own blood. The horn split apart and the poisoned drink spilled harmlessly. In the confusion which followed Egil killed Bard and escaped.
This is the classic example of blood being used to stain runes. Blood can be obtained from the male body only by inflicting injury, and blood is far from being the only bodily fluid available for staining purposes. The consideration of alternatives will reveal why seidr was so potent and so shunned in the classic age of Viking sorcery. Although the advent of the hvitakrist, the White Christ, was then virtually unknown, and the Old Testament similarly outside a culture not yet introduced to the Latin alphabet, very rigid codes of conduct were applied. To bugger was much more acceptable than to be buggered, as it provided the only sterile usage of male ejaculation.
And here we begin to approach the precise unmanliness of seidr in runecraft. In a 1974 University of California symposium, Myth in Indo-European Antiquity, Jeannine Talley suggested that semen was also used for staining runes. She established a connection between, runes, mandrakes and the gallows, Odin's preferred method of sacrifice, which is hard to ignore and requires further exploration.
The mandrake wasn't native to the northern climes, preferring the conditions prevailing around the Mediterranean. Yet it holds a special place in northern myth and folklore. The manikins fashioned from its root were generally known as alrauns, the name allegedly derived from the Gothic word allrune. The Huns were allegedly born of matings between foul spirits and sorceresses called alrunae. Here we have another possibility for seidr which actually relates well to the information we have so far uncovered, adding to the implication that unnatural matings or sexual activities could be involved. Popular belief held that the mandrake grew from the seed of a hanged man spurting to earth beneath the gallows. That hanged men can involuntarily ejaculate is known to anyone who has witnessed such an execution, the medical profession and some males indulging in a certain sado-masochistic practice. Thus semen discharged under ritual circumstances would be a highly appropriate staining medium.
Ergi remains the most popular term used to describe male seidr practises. It's used by Snorri to describe the aspects of Odin's art mentioned above. And here let us recall the mythical origin of the runes, with Odin hanging on the world-tree Yggdrasil for nine days and nights. Ejaculation during strangulation is a dangerous but persistent sexual deviation, and Odin's cry before snatching up the runes would find a parallel in such a climactic situation.
Talley's conclusion brings staining with semen firmly into the potential of runic methodology, but to establish seidr's dark byways involves penetrating the feminine mysteries, remembering that by far the greatest number of recorded seidr practitioners have been female. In order to follow seidr back as far as possible to its recorded roots we cannot ignore Tacitus' Germania, written in AD98. He used this book to contrast Germanic morality with the degeneracy and profligacy of the Roman Empire, and to stress the threat which the Germani could present if ever they became organized. That he chose to ennoble the Germani but denigrate the Druids, despite the admirable impression left after Diviciacus' visit to Rome in 60 BC, must remain a mystery of his political thought and motivation as expressed through his writing.
The account of the peoples involved extended through Frisia into Denmark, including the forefathers of the Norse and Viking magicians who practised seidr. The women of these peoples, as described by Tacitus at a time when, according to the evidence which may be gleaned from Antonsen's Concise Grammar of the Older Runic Inscriptions, the runes were being used to greatest effect, were both remarkable and potent. It was to the gallant wives and mothers of the warriors that the wounded repaired to be healed. Sodomites were regarded with total contempt and drowned in bogs under wicker hurdles. The dowry was brought from husband to wife, not vice versa as in later times. One tribe even had the presiding priest dressed like a woman. And whilst they didn't actually accompany their menfolk into battle they were always close by.
We have to bear in mind that we are at least 600 years before the Viking Age when examining this material. Exact comparisons are blurred by the intervening period, which both adapts and inhibits our understanding. But for the implications implicit, though not actually stated, in seidr, it is important. A man dressed as a woman. An abomination of sodomy. Woman as healer and, if we look closely enough, seeress, as with the Norse völva. There are classic elements of seidr here, and material wherewith to expand on our researches so far. To summarize, the following has been established:
2. seidr is regarded as unmanly in its practises.
Another way of staining runes, so far unconsidered, is the exclusive prerogative of women. Once a month, for the better part of a week, blood flows from their bodies as a part of their natural cycle. This unmanly occurrence, regarded as such even by some of the modern breed of liberated female, is falsely regarded as a stigma of uncleanliness rather than as nature renewing its own potential. Yet a woman's courses, to use an antique expression, are almost universally regarded as having great magical potential. Most men are at a loss when faced with this completely natural phenomenon. That it could be other than forgotten about when not present, and efficiently mopped up when occurring, is well beyond the average male comprehension. For it to have a magical significance would make it definitely ergi, extending as it does its combination of filth and sexuality into the known male universe.
The rune-masters and -mistresses of Viking times would have learned much more than just the shapes and phonetic values of the runic symbols, especially when these symbols were destined to serve a magical purpose. The Runatal provides a brief synopsis of the training involved, but having been composed around 950, when the art was at its apogee, fails to elaborate. The Runatal is unusual in being a written text. The instruction given to one aspiring to runecraft would have been verbal and, by implication, would have varied according to the gender of the instructor.
Behind any runecraft lies a variety of skills, separating the novice from the initiate. Unlike witchcraft, where self-initiation is regarded as essentially suspect, no matter what the antecedents and predilections of the aspirant, runecraft has a precedent in Odin's Runatal experience which offers a continuing validity for our own times. Yet the variety of skills required to blend galdr and seidr effectively occur in sufficient quantities only rarely in any one individual, recalling the élite status of the Thulian initiates. They comprise an awareness of the related poetic arts, divinatory rune-use, which in turn requires interpretative skills and an awareness of their magical power, and a competence in the eight areas of runecraft briefly described in the Runatal: cutting, consulting, staining, testing, invoking, sacrificing, sending and, finally, purging.
It must now be obvious that the title "rune-master" is sexist in the worst sense of the term. The role of woman in Norse and Viking runic and magical uses is historically inescapable, as is the role of the female traits contained within the psyche of every men, weakling or quarterback. Yet, runecraft, whilst it may be the mainstay of the magic of the time, is neither its beginning nor its end. Other elements, such as deosil or widdershins circumambulations, whistling and chanting, weaving of wands and banners, to the appropriate quarters, have an inescapable regard attributed to them. Even poetry, that essential of Galdr, has its part to play in Seidr techniques. And all of the above spring fully documented from authentic Saga sources.
To equate seidr with sex-magic is to leap too far in search of a conclusion. But to deny the links between Seidr and sexuality is to go nowhere near far enough. looking once more at the known magicians of the past, Egil Skallagrimsson, archetypal male runemaster, used a nidpole to oust Eric Bloodaxe and Gunnhild from Norway, using his sorcerous powers to topple the recently acceded High King. Strom places nid and ergi within the same context, relating both firmly to seidr by implication. Egil was a confirmed follower of Odin and died in AD 990, a full decade before his native land converted to Christianity as an act of political pragmatism. The witch Thurid grew up in heathen times, though the best-documented use of her skills occurs in 1031. And Gunnhild Gorm's-daughter, three times a queen and three times an exile, was taught by the most feared magicians the Vikings knew, the Lapps, with their widespread use of trance and other shamanistic techniques. Erik Bloodaxe rescued her from the two Lappish sorcerers who wanted payment for their teachings to be made with the only possession Gunnhild had with her - her body.
The Viking attitude to seidr meshed in readily with the Christian attitude that all magic not in the hands of the Christian priesthood was devilish and must be proscribed. With Christianity came the monkalpha, the Latin alphabet, and written literacy. Written accounts were made by converts, and thus distorted according to the bias of the author. Even Snorri noticeably bent the truth in places. The imposed spirituality of the new faith, together with its desire to suppress the body in everything except servitude, eventually drove all forms of Norse magic underground. The attitude expressed by at least one Church father, that man's gateway into this world lay between urine and faeces, both coloured thought for the righteous and provided fresh areas for those seeking forbidden fruit. But the bias had been established, and despite the researches of scholars such as Strom, Sorensen and Talley, and the valid opinions expressed by writers like Freya Aswynn and Edred Thorsson, the popular image of rune magic and the Northern Tradition as something divorced from sexuality continues.
The historical evidence reveals just what a narrow view this is. Gunnhild is far and away its sexiest exponent, unashamedly using sex magic throughout the 40 year period over which the sagas mention her, unashamedly blighting, killing and attracting, securing lovers on both sides of the menopause. Thurid may have been an old woman in 1031, but she learned her arts in the pagan period over 30 years previously. Egil's runecraft with the horn was performed when he was 24, and he died at the age of 80.
Seidr, irrespective of its individual techniques, transcends the age-range, implying a raw power which is the prerogative of neither youth nor maturity. Society shuns it because it is both accessible and potent, and thus undeniably dangerous. Imagine the threat to the power companies if we generate our own gas and electricity, or that to the communications industry if widespread telepathy ever took off. How much greater must such a threat be when applied to the needs of everyday life, specifically in areas linked with sexual taboo?
Seidr thus displays a dubious, disturbing and, for those who learn how to employ its power, an enormous potency and relevance for modern life. Its classical roots, guaranteeing 2000 years of power, reinforce it. There is a famous illustration in a later alchemical text of an androgynous being, and there is every reason to suppose such a creature would have been feared in the north because it combined both male and female elements in its body. How much the greater might any modern practitioner be if he or she, given opportunity and sufficient knowledge, could apply him/herself to the appropriate principles. No-one has ever said that sexuality must be unambiguous in magical terms. Crowley was
proud of having breasts he believes approached hermaphroditic standards. He may not have menstruated, but there must remain a point where male and female sexuality differentiates, and that point in actuality can be both the meeting-place and the differentiation for seidr. Seidr's importance for Norse magic is both an established historical fact and a continuing reality. Some modern feminism seeks to divide female from male, demonstrating power by burning items of clothing more often worn from choice than necessity. Yet anything seeking to deny half of the existing universe is unbalanced, and this tendency for gender to be an excuse rather than a reason applies as much to magic as anything else.
Odin had no shame in acknowledging the feminine components in his nature, so why should any modern Norse follower seek to remain essentially unbalanced by denying the potent influence of the opposite gender? The dividing line between male and female is never so blurred as when seidr is being considered, and much of that is due to seidr never having received any valid consideration outside of the historical context.The crossover between male and female is still something of a novelty, wrongly implying homosexuality and thus clouding an issue which is already complex enough. Yet we cling to our stereotypes and insist upon men having bulging muscles and women having bulging breasts.
And neither is exactly right in seidr terms. It is the human mind which is the important factor, not the human physique. And this is as it was in Viking times, with the emphasis on ability, male or female, rather than upon sexuality. Egil wasn't afraid to do what needed doing, whether its implications required a compromise or not. Neither was the arch-bitch and beauty Gunnhild. The strength and vigour of Viking sorcery should be capable of transcending
sexuality, as Odin and Freya both demonstrated, and can again today if the right mental attitude can be adopted. The basis of seidr was the ability to use sexuality without fear of criticism. If you're male you cut yourself or use semen to stain your runes. How that blood or semen is obtained is up to you. The same is true if you're female. No known example of seidr offers an example of the two sexes co-operating towards a magical end, but as any cautious and conclusionreticent archaeologist will tell you, grudgingly, that's not to say it didn't or hasn't happened.
Yet the use of blood, by design through cutting or, more naturally through the menstrual cycle, and semen is not the totality of seidr. There's an attitude of mind behind the practise as well that transcends such bodily phenomena/ephemera. The eddas and sagas point the way, but it's up to the individual to find and interpret it. Truth requires an instinctive grasp, and as far as seidr is concerned the holding of the entirety in your hand is rather like shamanism. The activities and symbolism should never be permitted to usurp the truth of the experience.
Seidr has its roots further back than the Viking Age and can be related to both the Delphic oracle and the isle of Ogygia, five days' sail from Britain, described by Sextus Sylla. In the practice of platform prophecy we approach yet closer to Thulian doctrine, these new directions introducing additional aspects for us to consider.
The oracles of Cronus were delivered with the god asleep upon a gold-coloured rock. It is thus hardly surprising to discover in the sagas that a favourite form of oracular practice involved the setting up of a platform upon which the "Völva" or sooth-saying wise woman was seated. Platforms were used for acts of magic as well as prophecy, and formed the Northern equivalent of the magic circle of medieval and later times further South.
An appreciation of platform magic needs to be gained at this stage. The magical circle was a feature of more Southerly practices, and held no consequence for the lands further North. Three Northern substitutes, by which the magician isolated him- or herself from the mundane environment, may be noted. One was the ox-hide, marked with nine squares and stood or sat upon. A second was the setting out of "hurdles" or lengths of wood to form a skeletal nine square arrangement, with the centre square being occupied by the sorcerer. The third was the platform, literally a raised area, usually supported by four posts and high enough off the ground for someone to get underneath it, which happened in one case where runes cut on the supports countered the ritual in progress above. In "Gisli Saga" the sorcerer Thorgrim Neb erects a platform to work a spell to prevent aid coming to Gisli. In "Gongu-Hrolf's Saga" the sorcerers opposing Hrolf work their weather-magic atop a platform. They are defeated by the dwarf Mondul cutting runes on the supports of the platform, causing them to rush from it to their deaths.
The connection of the prophetic god Apollo with Thule has already been noted, so it is hardly surprising that the pythoness who delivered his oracles was herself seated upon a form of platform. This is the tripod, or three-legged stool, and it was placed at Delphi above the cave from which an "inspiring vapour" issued. The cave recalls that in which Cronus slept, and was in the form of a yoni, the symbol of the female genitalia. In O'Brien's description of the Delphic pythoness a tube connected the opening of the cave with the opening of the seated pythoness. The insertion of anything approaching a dildo, albeit or especially for religious purposes, would to later religious and even secular eyes constitute a species of self-abuse. We've previously noticed that O'Brien derives the word Delphi from "de", divine and "phith", yoni, and explored the possibility that this could refer to the pythoness herself, who was both female and consecrated to the service of the divine Apollo. Certainly in the early days the pythoness was always a young virgin, but after an appallingly modern scandal in which a Thessalian abducted and raped one it became the custom for a woman of more advanced years to hold the position. Today, with elderly women being raped almost on a regular basis, according to the news media, it's easy to perceive how much further mankind has degenerated.
The pythoness was secured to the tripod, which was placed over the opening in the cave. Vapours issued through this and penetrated the vaginal opening of the prisoned sybil, intoxicating and inspiring her. She has also been said to have chewed laurel to intoxicate herself, and to have washed in and drunk copious draughts of pure water before being affixed to the tripod. If Apollonian / Thulian and Nordic / Thulian practices are to be linked we must discover a similar connection for the Northlands. Thorgrim Neb was said to work his magic with obscenity and deviltry, but this might have been the interpolation of a Christian author, the saga having been written around 1225. But this is not to say that the author wasn't accurately recording the traditions of an earlier time. The description offered of the pythoness demonstrates a situation which Victorian morality and its persistence has made incomprehensible today. It implies a degree of delirious sexuality which was coupled with some form of sensory intoxication introduced via the vaginal opening. This could well be described as the magic worked with obscenity and deviltry which was hinted at but not described by saga authors.
Another question which should be addressed at this point is that of the Old Norse title "Thul", found in literature and on memorial stones. There does not appear to be any connection with the Old Norse word "thula" - to endure, suffer, tolerate; instead "thulr" (m) appears in "Hávamál" 111 with a meaning along the lines of sage or seer. It recurs in the same text in stanza 134, where Loddfafnir is exhorted not to laugh at a hoary Thul because the old often have words of wisdom to impart. "The mighty Thul" is apparently a title of Odin, as in stanzas 80 and 142 the runes were said to have been coloured by "fimbulthulr" - the mighty Thul or Thulr.
The term is also applied to the smith Regin in "Fafnismal" 34 and also to Vafthrudnir (whose name has the literal meaning of mighty-in-riddles) in "Vafthrudnismal" 9. Other occurrences include the title being used of the hero Starkadr and the "wizard poet" Thorleif jarlsskáld. Thorleif held a grudge against Jarl Hakon after the Jarl had burned his ship. Disguised as a beggar he penetrated the Jarl's court and recited a cursing poem before his enemy. The unfortunate Hakon was so affected by the poem that he developed a violent itch between his legs, lost his beard and most of the hair on one side of his head. The hair never grew back. Yet as well as its effect upon the Jarl the poem also plunged the hall into darkness, made weapons clash together and caused several men to fall down dead. Hakon himself eventually, and very sensibly, fainted. Icelandic tradition held that the poem charged Hakon with a lack of virility, hence the loss of hair and the itching in areas it would have been impolite to scratch in public. Another tradition holds that certain particularly gifted poets were able to present scorn so powerful that it had a direct physical effect upon the victim.
There was an Old English cognate, "thyle", which was used to gloss the Latin words "orator", "scurra" (dandy, jester, buffoon) and "histrio" (actor). If we examine these glosses establishing a meaning becomes even more difficult as the range of activities appears to have diversified dramatically. However, these are late attributions and based upon Latin words regarded as suitable by Christian commentators, and the denigration of pagan practices was a singular part of their stock-in-trade.
The verb "thylja", derived from the same root, was used to mean chant, proclaim and occasionally mumble to oneself. The Snoldelev stone bears an inscription meaning: Gunvald's stone, son of Roald the Thul in Salløv (literally: "on the Sal mounds"), giving us recitation upon a raised area, which hints strongly at platform prophecy, ministry or sorcery.
With its meaning in Viking times of "sage", or "seer", and reinforced with the epithet "mighty" when speaking of Odin as rune-stainer, "Thul" became a difficult title to ignore. Yet it is also, given some of those to whom it is applied, a hard title to define. Its attribution to them may not be the bestowal of the actual title but rather a recognition of aspects of the Thul within the individuals named.
In historical times references to the Thul are admittedly rare. Most edda and saga mentions are of the "Godi", who was much closer to the conventional priest of the community. Moltke speculates that the Thul may have been the secular side of a priesthood represented on the sacred side by the Godi, but this speculation is based upon the minimal historical references rather than the literary ones. Evans believed the idea and office of the Thul to be prehistoric concepts, already obsolete at the time of the oldest surviving records. This would account for the scarcity of mentions, but not for the wide range of those few we have.
To return to the Snoldelev stone for a moment we find, as well as the literal inscription, that it bears a triskele composed of three horns and a swastika which crosses over a sun-wheel carved many centuries before. The inscription is carved in original Germanic runes, despite the fact that artifacts bearing the younger futhork are known from the same period.
An old stone is used to commemorate a Thul. It bears an old inscription and old symbols. The trade of the smith (Regin) is both old and magical. The skill of the reciter, who was skilled with words and thus presumably mighty in riddles, precedes that of the rune-carver. The prowess of the hero probably precedes both.
We may begin to agree with Evans that we are dealing with an extremely ancient concept. The Thul would have been a man of wisdom and would have possessed a fund of ancient lore. He may also have been credited with the gift of prophecy. The probability is that the Godi developed from the Thul to minister to specific groups of people as a duty, whilst the Thul behaved in a more random fashion, ministering as required but concentrating upon his own development, and that of the powers of Thule, as a primary concern.
Whilst a connection between obscenity in Northern platform magic and the practises of the pythoness of Apollo at Delphi has been ventured, it is not possible to extend it to the platform prophecy of the Völva as described in the sagas. A connection that can be made, however, is that of some form of intoxication. In "Eirik's Saga Rauda" a full description of a Völva practising platform prophecy is given. A high seat or platform is prepared for the Völva. It is furnished with a cushion stuffed with hen's feathers. The cock's relation to sunrise is too well known to require restating here, but the solar attribution of the bird will not be lost by this omission. And there is another connection to the pythoness of Apollo which must be made here, namely that the Völva's high seat is believed to have been a three-legged stool called, coincidentally enough, a "thularstóll".
The prophetess arrives in the evening wearing a blue mantle, the colour regarded as sacred to Odin, the discoverer of runes in Norse myth and the god of prophecy. Her black lambskin hood is lined with white cat's fur. Before beginning her oracular function she consumes a ritual meal consisting of gruel made from goat's milk and a main dish of the hearts of every kind of animal available to her host. In traditional astrology the heart is ascribed to the sun. The prophetess fasts then until late on the following day, when she seats herself upon the platform and another woman sings the "warlock songs", which would have represented a form of galdr. After this the Völva begins to prophesy and "there were few things which did not turn out as she had said".
Fasting before any form of ritual activity, including Christian communion, is a standard preparation. It serves to refine and, in some degree, intoxicate the senses of the participant. Certainly some form of trance is entered by the Völva before her prophecies are uttered. Chanting, as in the singing of the "warlock songs", is also a means of inducing trance states. The Völva who prophesied for King Frothi in "Hrolf's Saga Kraka" was certainly intoxicated in some way, either by fasting and a lengthy vigil or some other means. The Völva, whose name is given as Heith, had a high scaffold prepared for her "spell-making" as well as a "noble" feast. Before each of her prophecies she "gaped her jaws asunder and yawned mightily". To say that the Völva was a female Thul is both simplistic and inaccurate. True, an
examination of the roles of Thul and Völva will show many similarities, but it will also show many differences. The ideal Thulian combination for any ministry would have been the Thul and the Völva acting together, thus complementing one another and being able to deal with any situation which might arise.
From the available evidence it could be said that prophecy was the main strength of the Völva, whose abilities would have been embraced by both the Northern peoples and the pythoness of Apollo at Delphi. From the account in "Eiriks Saga Rauda" we may conclude that the heart is the primary symbol of the Völva. In order to fully reconstruct her functions, and those of the Thul, we will have in some measure to rely upon the evidence, carefully sifted, of medieval witchcraft, which inherited much of the teachings, albeit somewhat decayed, of Ultima Thule. The Völva represents those special gifts which are the province of woman, in the same way that the Thul possesses those properly pertaining to man. Studying the phenomena they embody can teach us a substantial amount about that balance and harmony which Thule strove to promote.
The Medieval Period - Witchcraft - Johannes Faust - The Heathen -Seeking Thule's Wisdom - Woman - Prophecy - Racial Identity and Heritage - Healing and Blighting - Magical Flight Shape-Shifting - Longevity and Reincarnation
"What seest thou else in the dark backward and abysm of time?" William Shakespeare - "The Tempest" Act 1 scene ii. Whilst there is at present an admitted hiatus when it comes to seeking references to Thule in the medieval period, there are several links which carry the tradition through towards the present. The Druids were most certainly not exterminated in these islands by any Roman action of the first century. This is demonstrated by the existence of Broichan, Chief Druid at the court of King Brude at Inverness, encountered by no less a personality than St Columba in AD 565. And if tradition is taken as a parallel to history, there is a tradition that Druidism in its pure and original form breathed its last upon the Isle of Lewis, which remained allied to the faith for a long time after the incursions of Christianity.
To officially die out is not quite the same as to be deceased. Nazism is officially dead in modern Germany, where giving the Hitleran salute can result in prison terms and even setting the swastika on manufactured replica items for export is verboten, both of which prohibitions are entirely superfluous if official and actual death are identical. It is thus quite likely, and even demonstrable, that the official dead are subject to unofficial necromancy. A Scottish Minister writing in 1871 about the seventeenth century quotes Kirk minutes designed to uproot pagan practices, including an unwillingness to till "druidic" fields. These remained untilled until the beginning of the nineteenth century, but by then other manifestations were abroad and the physical preservation of such sites was no longer as vital as it had been.
There is a direct connection between the Northern Tradition and European Witchcraft of the historical (traditional) variety. Witchcraft, like Norse Paganism, has been principally recorded by Christian commentators with their own bias and ideology to impose. Because of this much of the material as presented has to be regarded as suspect and viewed accordingly by anyone interested in establishing the actual and relevant truth of any questions. One factor immediately links the topics, and that is the respect offered woman by both. Woman in the North was venerated and regarded as having a special gift of wisdom and prophecy. The same is true of the witch cult, with its special veneration of the eternal feminine in Aradia, Diana (Artemis - also known as Selene and Cynthia) and other goddesses. Indeed, at the perverse end of the spectrum, some Christian commentators regarded menstrual blood as the veritable "vinum sabbati".
Christianity took every opportunity to deny and denigrate the role of woman, even the goddess-substitute known as the Virgin Mary who featured prominently within its own ranks. Any cult which might acknowledge woman as an equal being was doomed to censure, if not direct accusations of heresy. This is an attitude which still persists today, with the female ministry mostly confined to non-conformist sects and those branches of orthodoxy, like the Church of England, seeking to embrace the female ministry being threatened with schism as a direct result.
The most telling evidence for the association of witchcraft with the Northern Tradition comes from the trials and legislation which manifested during the Medieval and later European persecutions. Flying through the air for witches goes at the very least as far back as the "Hávamál" in around 950, if not to Abaris himself. Use of herbs and salves, not to mention inscribed charms, takes us back into runic times and is a direct manifestation of the teachings of Apollo. The archetypal familiar, the cat, is sacred to Freya. The worship of an earth mother and a sky father is a classical Greek motif and a solar calendar traces to the worship of Apollo once again. A dozen or more similarities can be established with ease.
Much of the so-called witch knowledge was already established and accepted in Anglo-Saxon times, even showing up in manuscripts of the period such as the "Lacnunga". And in case anyone should wish to cite Leland's "Aradia" to show that medieval witchcraft stems from Italy, not points further North, remember that the most favoured derivation of the runes themselves is from an Etruscan or North Italic alphabet, and Leland's informant Maddalena was from the "Romagna of the North" (of Italy).
The persecutions in Northern climes showed greater toleration and were of a much lesser extent than those further South. The bulk of the trials took place between the Reformation and the early eighteenth century, and served more to strengthen belief in witchcraft, both amongst its practitioners and in the popular mind, than it did to remove the faith. Most of those condemned were from the lower social classes, giving the attitudes of the judges a more honest ring than elsewhere, where confiscation of wealth was often a patent motive for conviction. And even though the persecutions did take place the number of successful prosecutions was significantly lower than further South. This might be taken to imply a greater sympathy, perhaps even identification, with witchcraft as a manifestation of the older Thulian faith which lingers in the Northern folk-soul to this day.
Inevitably the question of Gerald Gardner arises when we move towards modern times. The Law, in a form very nearly identical to that which is preserved in the Book of Shadows, existed well prior to 1900. In revealing it Gardner unknowingly gave Thule a new lease of life. The only real and insurmountable difference between witchcraft and Thule is that the former is professedly Lunar whilst the latter is essentially a Solar faith.
The archetype of Faust which has come down to us is depicted as hunched, bald and even more ignoble of aspect than the usual portrait engraving of Shakespeare. Despite the great verbal depiction of the sorcerer provided by the Bard's rival, the agent in Lord Burghley's secret service and playwright Kit Marlowe, who himself came to a bad end, Faustus dabbles in qabalism and demonology, full stop. Yet here we have a truly Thulian character, one whose existence matters less than his perceived works, one who for good or ill changed man's perception of the semi-divine world about him. Forget the stories of legs being pulled off and people being endowed with antlers. Forget the base calumnies of beer-cellar rioting and popeteasing. Examine for a moment the catalytic qualities of Faustus, the magus who, at the basest level, sought physical pleasure and, on a higher plane, challenged the Christian concept of Hell itself.
The achievements of Faustus are neither in his magic nor in his life or death. They are in the legend, and in the Thulian spirit which produced and promulgated it. For fifteenth or sixteenth century man to challenge Heaven was inconceivable. It did not, however, stop
Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, or his protegé Martin Luther. And more importantly it created concepts which were not lost on later writers like Marlowe and the eighteenth century Goethe, who spent nearly forty years working on Part 1 of his "Faust". If we examine certain details of the Faust legend we discover themes which are already becoming familiar. Faust is transported through the air by magical means, recalling the journey of Abaris to Greece. His sexuality is manifested in the provision of the resurrected Helen of Troy to be his paramour, a sexual liaison which is as unlikely as it is perverse. And his enquiring and officially deviant mind leads him to rebel against established doctrine, conjuring the demon Mephistophilis who becomes both his mentor and, ultimately, his executioner.
The name Heidi noticed above has an importance of its own for our subject.This is the name of the Völva consulted by Odin in the Eddaic poem "Voluspá", who prophesies the Ragnarok, the Doom of the Gods, and survives. Other beings in the "Elder Edda" predict the doom of the gods and the death of Odin in particular, but end up by being beheaded or turned to stone. Only Heith does so and lives, if live she does, for she "sinks down" through the mound into her underground bunker at the end of her prophetic utterances. Possibly this refers to the culmination of the trance state upon which her prophecies, made upon an earthen mound, or platform, depend.
The name Heide, again etymologically identical, occurs in a completely different context. It means "Heath", and in modern German "heidjer" or heath-man derives from it. Heidjer is the name which, more than any other, is the traced derivation of a surname synonymous with both Thule and evil in the twentieth century: Hitler. The dictator himself would have approved the derivation, despite being born a Christian and, nominally, dying one. Amongst his recorded utterances to Rauschning, Gauleiter of Vienna, are the following words: "They regard me as an uneducated barbarian. Yes, we are barbarians. We want to be barbarians. It is an honourable title."
Hitler's birthplace, Braunau-am-Inn on the Austrian border, was noted for producing many psychics and mediums. In "Mein Kampf" Hitler outlined his intentions for the future according to a series of plans. These proved accurate right up until the last desperate years of the Third Reich.
What exactly were the teachings of the Thulian College of Initiates which was visited with Saturn in Taurus? This is far from being the easiest question we have so far encountered to answer. Yet there are strong clues, without the need to revert to any species of occult contact with our vanished ancestors, despite the actuality that this contact can easily be made. In order to progress with the reconstruction of Thulian doctrine we are forced to make some assumptions which may or may not have been proven to the reader's satisfaction. The main assumption, well-based in historical narrative, is that Thule, Hyperborea and the Ogygia described by Sextus Sylla are all, if not the same place, then at least strongly linked. Whether or not they correspond to modern Iceland has less relevance, but they would seem to do so.
Thule/Hyperborea was regarded by the Greeks as at least a comparable power, even if the inhabitants were said to speak a peculiar dialect instead of the more comprehensible (for the Greeks) native Greek language. Thulian science would have embraced studies such as
astrology, music, art and healing, as well as mathematics and number skills, heliocentricity and other solar matters, and the corpus of material which fell between the two and was later to be regarded as witchcraft by the uninitiated. The culture it created and taught may well have extended world-wide, and certainly in just our own small corner of the globe the close relationship of Celtic and Norse culture is now becoming obvious once again through the work of Davidson and similar scholars.
Invisibility was one of the powers attributed to Abaris, who will be fully examined later, but it is not mentioned in regard to any other Thulians. More important for present purposes is an examination of the philosophy which pertained to the culture. Whilst it was essentially insular, it involved an appreciation of reincarnation and an awareness of racial identity which was based upon a shared heritage embracing both racial and religious tolerance. It was also a philosophy capable of creating sufficient inspiration to help the peoples involved strive towards those mental processes which would assist them to evolve towards a better and more secure future.
The Thulian beliefs and powers which have been noticed previously relate to the following topics: Tutelary Deities Woman Invisibility The Runes and the Hällristningar Prophecy Racial Identity Animal-lore Healing and Blighting Magical Flight Longevity In order for a basic Thulian curriculum to be established today we must elaborate upon these points. In order to be as practical as possible the more magical elements will be left aside for discussion later. Racial identity is one of those delicate subjects which must, of necessity in today's world, require a chapter to itself. Invisibility need not concern us as a practical issue, although there are instances in both Greek myth and the sagas which leave a powerful impression upon the mind. Magical flight will be examined because, by the standards of the time, it is something that we practice right now.
Whilst we have already examined the role of woman in the North we have yet to consider her Thulian counterpart further South in the classical world. As far back as 3000 BC priestesses were recognized objects for iconography in Crete and Argos, Thebes and Athens (named for Athena herself after a contest with Poseidon), as well as other cities, were originally matrilinear in terms of rulership succession. In Sparta women were extremely free and independent, and according to both Euripides and Plutarch would throw off their clothing to wrestle competitively with their male contemporaries in the gymnasia. This situation contrasts strongly with that of the male dominated Hebrews, who consistently maintained their patriarchal society. The Ammonites of Canaan, with whom the Israelites were in repeated conflict, had women in official positions, and we should not forget that
Solomon's meeting with the Queen of Sheba was a meeting on equal terms with a national leader. The Canaanites are also on record as being the nation which had a woman whose title was "adath", the female equivalent of the Israelite "adon", or lord, as in "Adonai".
The fearsome Gorgons of Greek myth had three lesser-known sisters called the Graeae, a word meaning grey ones. These were swan-maidens, allied to if not identical with the Norse valkyries, who lived at the world's edge, itself a synonym for Thule. Their names were Pemphedro, "the wasp", who was exquisitely dressed; Enyo, the "warrior", who always dressed in solar yellow; and lastly there was Deino, the "terrible". They were beautiful, though described as grey haired from birth, and may have given the national name to the Greeks if "graeci", as would seem the case, is translated as "the worshippers of the crone". Evidence of an equivalent Thulian role is provided by Diodorus Siculus, who cited Hyperborea as the birthplace of Leto, the mother of the solar divinity Apollo. And in case the position of the later Roman Empire is disputed with regard to woman, let us not forget that it was a she-wolf who suckled its founders, Romulus and Remus.
Whether or not they had been there from the beginning, female Druids are at least recorded by history. As a young officer Diocletian (died AD 313) was advised by a Druidess that he would eventually "kill a boar" and become emperor. Eventually he killed the prefect Arrius, called "the boar", and the prophecy was fulfilled. Aurelianus (died circa AD 275) consulted Druidesses from Gaul. This is significant as, at his triumph, he exhibited examples of fifteen different conquered people and could therefore have had his pick of prophetesses from amongst them. And Alexander Severus, who was murdered together with his mother by an insurrection of his troops, and should not be confused with Lucius Septimus Severus (killed AD 211 at Eboracum, or York), was warned of his fate by a Druidess.
PROPHECY This subject forms a primary link between the ancient Norse and Greek cultures, and shows up regularly in both the histories and the myths. The modern attitude towards prophecy is woefully inadequate and only two parodies of the true art currently exist. The first is the small-scale divination of astrologers, tarot-readers and even some runesters, debasing and advertising the art for public consumption on request. The second is the "scientific" method of the pollsters and market forecasters, assembling information, drawing the most likely conclusion on the basis of the facts at their disposal and still getting it completely wrong with alarming frequency. Even governments, with all the resources of public money at their disposal, seem unable to forecast even theoretically-based events, such as the pound under pressure in the UK on Black Wednesday in 1992 and the millions that were lost as a result.
One of the reasons for this total inadequacy is the fact that prophecy has fallen into secular hands. The major religions, and Christianity especially, regard prophecy as either fallacious or downright demoniacal. The number of prophets which figure largely in the Old Testament are either ignored as quaint or regarded as precursors of the omniscient Christ, after whose appearance nobody except a few privileged saints, it would appear, is allowed any supernatural or even preternatural powers at all.
Apollo's oracular powers would have been transmitted to his priesthood, and Thulian prophecy was a power embraced by both women and men. Both sexes were able to master the runes and the implied shamanism of oracular/prophetic practice. Woman was both naturally gifted and an initiate of platform prophecy, which was her especial domain, and that healing and support for which Germani males applied to her. She shared the techniques of
platform sorcery with man. The idea that what Zeus premeditates Cronus dreams implies at the very least a somnolent telepathic ability in Cronus. Research into telepathy continues today, but again it is in secular hands, in the form of either under-funded private research or more lavish, but secret, government projects. Fig.5: Platform sorcery, from a history of the North printed in 1555. Note the Thor's hammer.
Fostermothers in the North were often able to touch their fostersons before they went off to battle and predict their injuries. The practice of fostering was familiar to both the Norse peoples and the Celts, and Celtic fosterage is mentioned by Caesar. The legendary King Arthur was himself fostered, which is why Kay appears in the myths as his foster-brother. The child eventually returned to his family at puberty.
The future could be discovered through dreams, and the spirits of the departed could communicate with the living this way. Odin learned through magic the predestined fates of men. Weapons could also be prophetic, like a halberd which made a loud ringing sound when a man was to be killed by it, or another which dripped blood when a battle was imminent. But the greatest vehicles of prophecy were the Völvas, such as Heidi in the poem "Voluspá". The Völva would have been the Thulian priestess and the Thul the priest. Like the later Norse "Godi", or priest, the Thul is known to have held an important religious and secular position in Denmark, according to Randsborg. The shared tenets of their faith would have embraced shamanism, totemism, the powers of cursing and curing and a belief in the deities of the days of the week/planets. As with prophecy, these tenets are ignored by the official priesthoods of today in whose hands, were those hands adequate, they should really be held. It is hardly
surprising that modern priesthoods are mostly inadequate when the important role of women is, for the most part, either completely ignored or reduced to what is virtually a token ministry. Without a Thulian balance of the sexes there is no possibility of any ministry really succeeding. If true prophecy, and the other Thulian powers, are to be restored today, a ministry based on the principles of Thulian doctrine requires establishing. Many modern fortune-tellers are truly gifted people, and the majority of these are women.
The Runes serve as a medium for practical divination. The system as explained by Freya Aswynn and Edred Thorsson can answer complex questions readily and reliably and should be studied. Yet there is also a need for the abilities of the Völva a) because she celebrates the special gifts of woman, b) because the study of the phenomena she embodies can teach both man and woman a great deal. Likewise the return of the Thul and his special powers would be of enormous benefit, not least because of the shamanism (or journeying between earth and heaven) implicit in the techniques, a shamanism which still has relevance in the modern world.
Dreams are often associated with prophecy and, in effect, serve a threefold purpose. They are a natural review and release of tensions experienced whilst awake. They serve to reveal information buried in the mind which may be useful when awake. And they also reveal, as they did with Cronus, future events and patterns and means of either implementing or avoiding them. As with memories of past incarnations, the time experienced in dreams can be very different from the time-scale of reality. This can serve to make their interpretation difficult. Where dream precognition is concerned there are very few absolutes for us to take hold of. The three purposes of dream can often converge, again adversely affecting accurate interpretation. This is because they promote a two-way dialogue between two quite different modes of consciousness, the familiar temporal mind inhabiting our conscious brains and bodies and another mind which is firmly and, at the time, knowingly attached to the non-local collective of which our universe is formed.
It is irrefutable that the racialism of Nazi Germany was both extreme and misdirected, as modern social history so clearly reveals. One of the most considerate and caring ladies it has ever been my privilege to know is half-Jew and half-Gypsy and, had World War 2 turned out differently, would have died in a Milton Keynes concentration camp. The times required a scapegoat, and that scapegoat, significantly in view of the origins of the concept, was Judaism allied to other perceived groups of untermenschen. This was probably reinforced, according to Nazi pseudo-science, by the absence of any significant presence of the Northern swastika symbol from Semitic culture.
Yet it is true to say that the Northern peoples have always tended to be insular regarding intermarriage and similar minglings. Tacitus believed them to be indigenous to their locations and added that very little foreign blood had been imported. This desire not to "contaminate
themselves", as Tacitus puts it, resulted in distinctive physical characteristics which still persist today. And in order to pursue a wider Thulian connection it must be reported that Pythagoras, in an exhortation to his followers reported by Iamblichus, urged them not to have connection with any but their wives, lest the wives be angered by the vice and neglect their husbands thus displayed and get even by "adulterating the race". One of the major problems, created historically by their own actions, which has to be circumvented by the white peoples of this planet, is that of a tendency to feel that they have to efface, and thus denigrate and deny, their own racial identity. During recent centuries a guilt regarding subjugated nations has obtruded, promoting "positive discrimination" and helping nobody by its creation of artificial situations and even artificial linguistic phrases) to redress the "sins of the fathers".
Racial identity is as present today as it has ever been, as anybody who has ever tried to set foot in a West Indian or other ethnic club, including many "white" establishments, without belonging to the culture, will know. And "race" need not even mean colour. As I write the French are proposing a law which will mean heavy fines and even prison sentences for people using English expressions such as "DJ" and "fast-food"! Closer to home, it is less than a quarter of a century since I moved to an English village and experienced the local pub go completely silent, like a Western baddie walking into a saloon, as I, a stranger, entered with my wife.
Yet paradoxically racial identity appears to be strongest amongst those peoples which choose to fragment themselves from the general mass of humanity into specific cultures and beliefs. Islam, white, black or brown (those who do not believe in "the Book" must die by the sword), is a prime example in both political and religious terms, and if we examine a more local aspect we discover that it is the Aryan races which historically have best integrated into modern Western culture. Yes, they have been, until recently, the almost exclusive purveyors of that culture, but an impartial examination of external input
reveals it to be virtually entirely self-interested. Both Gandhi and Martin Luther King were working essentially for the good of their own people, not for humanity in general. The preservation of national/racial culture is to be applauded, whoever or whatever colour is doing it. Our present problem is to convince the white race that this should also apply to itself, and that the concept of the sins of the fathers, inherited from the imported creed of Judaism via Christianity, is outmoded. Children in primary schools have learned nursery rhymes from cultures outside their own, at the expense of valuable time which could have been spent enhancing their appreciation of whatever culture they themselves belong to. In America a synthetic middle class has been created which offers no real benefits either to society in general or to the "ghetto" dwellers it was originally intended to assist.
So-called "political correctness", an idiotic vocabulary of patently ludicrous synonyms, which in a few years will have defeated itself as the language changes to accommodate it, makes it necessary to ask for coffee without milk because the phrase "black coffee" is too emotive or offensive. Television commercials showing animated apes eating bananas have been criticized by officials of the Commission for Racial Equality on the grounds that they might be offensive to a particular viewing group. And there can be specialist bookshops for every culture imaginable, save one. Can you imagine a white culture bookshop staying open and undamaged for anything more than a few days at the most? Such is the power of positive discrimination to negate both the birthright of the individual and that individual's proper and correct identity.
The Nazi "philosopher" Alfred Rosenberg, hanged at Nuremberg and himself influenced by the Thule Gesellschaft, believed that in order to rule the world it was sufficient to have pure blood. He wrote of Thulian warriors conquering lands in the Mediterranean, Africa and even China. This has virtually happened in recent historical times and the price is now being paid. Hermann Wirth, director of the Ahnenerbe, had the Thulians cross-breeding with "lesser" peoples to produce both the modern Nordic and American Indian races. Let's examine that statement from a committed Nazi for a moment and perceive that these so-called lesser races embrace the ancestors of the modern white European, wherever the species Homo Sapiens actually first emerged. Is this true racism, any more than that expressed in the TV series and horror film "Quatermass and the Pit", where Martians have adapted earthlings into two species way back in the distant past and the discovery of this fact promotes a racial purgation?
And always there's the question of Nazism. Hitler's statement that the Jews "are creatures outside nature" is patent rubbish. Only the most indoctrinated of Nazis could have seriously believed that the Holocaust was really conducted to eradicate "untermenschen". Probably its prime motivation was greed, the same motive which caused the Holy Inquisition to declare the whole of the Netherlands heretical in the 1580s. Papal forces moved in and butchered 80 000 of the inhabitants inside a fortnight. Bearing in mind the lack of mechanization of the time the efforts of the Third Reich are positively futile by comparison. And let us not forget that this was white man against white man, all done in the name of religion.
The misdirected racism of Nazi Germany was an extreme deliberately manufactured for times which (politically) required a scapegoat. Probably the demonstrable absence of the significant presence of the swastika from Semitic culture (a fact doubtless rapidly established by the Ahnenerbe and similar Nazi "research" groups) assisted the selection of Judaism for the purpose, though the observable and known wealth of this migrant people would hardly have been an unconsidered factor.
Look at some of the conflicts members of the same "race" are sustaining at present (1994). In Bosnia the whites are killing one another in the name of "Ethnic cleansing". In Northern Ireland they are doing the same thing in the name of religion. And in other parts of the world, such as South Africa, they are divided on idealistic or political grounds which may, and possibly will, eventually lead to bloodshed. In parts of Africa rebels and government forces are killing each other. Old-style Stalinist Communists held "purges" which were ideological attacks on members of the same race, be it white, yellow, brown or purple.
I have used the white race as my example because I am white. It is easier to identify folk by outward appearance, as the Nazis did with their cranial measurements and genealogies to establish Semitic characteristics or bloodlines. Okay, popular myth has it that all Jews have big noses. So does the archetypal American Indian, many Welsh, Scots, French and even, yes, English, including the standard illustration of the fictional Sherlock Holmes. But the Thulian concept of "the folk" is not about colour or appearance. The folk is about the family of mankind and our attitude towards them. Thulians do not acknowledge the concept of the sins of the fathers, inherited from the imported creed of Judaism via Christianity. It was outmoded from the start and has served only to create angst.
one which will succeed. Rosenberg wrote of Thulian warriors conquering lands in the Mediterranean, Africa and even China. This actually happened, as history has shown, though less as conquest than as access and integration. Perhaps we could say today, as trade talks continue to founder, that Japan has conquered America in recent historical times and the price is now being pai
d. Certainly in Britain, fifty years on, there is a saying (vis à vis the British and German economies) that we won the war and lost the peace! The Vikings had toleration for other religions, including Christianity. They worked on the principle that "My faith is mine, your faith is yours." They were also incapable of racism. The fact that native Americans were described as "skraeling" (wretch) was down to behaviour, not skin-colour. There were many peoples on their own side of the Atlantic to whom they applied the same epithet.
Racism, despite the completely false Nazi overlay, has nothing to do with the doctrines of Thule. Its misguided élitism was completely out of place. The best anyone can do is to take their culture from the ground on which they live. This is by far the most sensible approach for any people, provided that their culture embraces the Thulian principles of true democracy and mutual tolerance. If other cultures share the same or adjoining space to the extent that they might become influential, then it is incumbent upon them to reciprocate and, as folk, concede to the sharing of the same ideas. Let the teachings these neighbouring peoples share be adapted to the capabilities of the individual cultural groups. Mutual tolerance of one another's culture is the best and most lasting inducement to global harmony that any teachings can advance.
We only need to place a special emphasis upon our racial and cultural roots if we perceive that they are being eroded by others. Once we have truly established a trans-ethnic tradition where the concept of the folk has become a reality, can all the peoples of this planet recover what, for each, is an ignored and denigrated heritage. Only then, when we have learned the secrets of truth, honour, unity, love and our environment, can every race and creed on Earth today demonstrate its worth and relevance.
The Viking attitude, of which we have actual written records in the sagas, has already been noticed. The gods had their adherents and there was open toleration for other religions, including Christianity. Many Vikings underwent "primsigning", an intermediate stage between paganism and baptism, in order to trade with Christian communities. Your faith was yours, and you held it without fear of persecution or criticism.
So what, exactly, has racism to do with the doctrines of Thule? Was the misguided élitism of Nazi Germany completely out of place? How do other cultures fit in with the concept of the lost Northern homeland? The answer is simple. Taking one's culture from the ground on which one lives is by far the most sensible approach for any people, provided that their culture embraces the Thulian principles of true democracy and mutual tolerance. If it should happen that other cultures share the same or adjoining space then it is incumbent upon them to reciprocate in turn. The known embrace of Thule included the Krauts, Limeys and Honkys of the North, the Spics of Central America and the Dagos of the Mediterranean, and the teachings were adapted to the capabilities of the individual cultural groups. Mutual tolerance of one another's culture is the best and most lasting inducement to global harmony that any teachings can advance. The need to place a special emphasis upon our racial and cultural roots arises if we feel they
are being eroded by either persons within our own culture or others outside it. Unfortunately the "global village" outlook of the modern world is serving to concentrate that need for the vast majority. Alex Haley's book "Roots" is an example, demonstrating the need of a modern American to trace his roots back to the African mainland. That it became widely accepted was down to a combination of its subject matter and the "sins of the fathers" attitude of modern international culture. Faiths such as Shinto and Voodoo can stress the role of the mighty ancestors, but try gaining acceptance for the idea that you are descended from Atilla the Hun, who has been vilified and denied the true worth of his achievements by Classicsbased historians. Thule represents the potential for a trans-ethnic tradition in which the remembrance of past and present folk requires the recovery of our ignored and denigrated heritage. Every race and creed on this planet today can demonstrate its relevance.
The ambrosia with which Cronus was fed by birds had the power of healing wounds, and Apollo is said to have preserved Sarpedon's body from putrefaction by rubbing him with it. Significantly enough, in view of the fragrance of Cronus' prison, ambrosia was also used as a perfume, and Venus herself used it when she appeared to Æneas. Aromatherapy is today well accredited for having curative effects.
The word Ambrosia is a standard description for the food of the gods. It has also been equated with the "red wine", believed by some to be menstrual blood, which gave them immortality. Odin himself, the great immortal of the North, subsisted wholly on "wine, or mead" which might well have had a completely different meaning from the modern translations of these words. As an essentially shamanic god Odin could have imbibed wine or mead made with less chemically innocuous substances, in much the same way that Siberian shamen drank their own urine once they had ingested fly agaric (which, incidentally, can produce a sensation of flight), their bodily processes filtering the drug and increasing its potency.
Significantly for this present study Pythagoras is said to have believed in the Delphic method of prophecy by delirium, using a Chaldean drug called kykeon, which he first encountered in Crete, for the purpose. Composed of equal parts of squill-bark, sesame and opium poppy seeds it contains at least one known classical and modern narcotic ingredient.
The drink of the Greek gods was said to be nectar which, amongst other definitions, is the "honey-like secretions of the nectary gland of flowers", and we should not forget that mead, which is a fermented honey-based drink, was the favourite Northern tipple. Charroux describes a Northern equivalent, a drink called "meth" which constituted the Bragi cup and is said to have been a hallucinogenic beer. He also mentions the "braga" of the Siberian Shamans, a rye beer in which "poisonous" (hallucinogenic) mushrooms (probably fly agaric) have been steeped. Whilst Ambrosia was both a healing/preserving substance for mortals and a food for the gods, no hint as to its origin is given in classical myth. This means that the Russian concept of it being derived (for which we may also read imbibed, if one or two small holes are sealed up) from a horse's skull cannot be immediately challenged.
The Northern peoples are known to have had a thorough knowledge of herbalism and healing, both by herbal and amuletic applications, and were not averse to the use of natural drugs and intoxicants to produce the altered states required for some techniques. Remnants of hemp (cannabis sativa) which dated from prehistoric times were discovered in 1896 at Wilmersdorf (Brandenburg). A year later the discoverer, Hermann Busse, drew the logical conclusion before the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory that hemp had been known in Northern Europe in prehistoric times. Doubts regarding the possible insertion of the hemp in later times were subsequently discarded, especially as the Chinese and the Scythians were known to be employing hemp for pleasurable purposes at the same time. Cannabis is a drug which does not grow particularly well in Northern climes, preferring the Mediterranean climate, where it was widely used in Greek practices, but it does grow and can be very potent. That remnants have been discovered, not only in Scythia but in the North, in areas with runic connections, is sufficient grounds for regarding its use as part of a linked cultural chain. The use of drugs, and the establishment of a pharmacopoeia, amongst the Northern peoples, who did not have the wherewithal to leave written records, opens the proverbial can of worms to our attention.
Whilst the implication that the berserker fury was induced by drugs might not now be acceptable in the light of present knowledge and our understanding of toxicology, the fact remains that some aspects of Norse healing and sorcery required at least a rudimentary understanding of the uses and values of herbs and other plants. The poison employed by Queen Gunnhild during her first abortive attempt upon the life of Egil Skallagrimsson, and that used by the witch the same lady later employed to murder Halfdan the Black, was most probably vegetable in origin, with belladonna and other known toxins available at the right time of year in virtually every hedgerow.
Cannabis as a Northern intoxicant is not unlikely. Vegetable drugs and poisons would most certainly have been known by Viking times. Fly Agaric, the mushroom amanita muscaria, grew then as it does now throughout Scandinavia, wherever there were the birch or pine forests which are its chosen habitat. It is and was an integral ingredient of Lapp shamanism and also noted for its ability to foster fire. At least one Scottish source names it as an excellent tinder for fire generated by the friction of two pieces of wood. Whilst there may not be actual known saga or edda evidence to imply its ingestion as a part of Norse sorcery or healing there is no real reason to suppose it
was not. That it was not the berserker tool it has been represented as being is suggested because its toxicological effects are unlike the shieldbiting, weapon-blunting, safety-disregarding rages the berserkers favoured. Equally there is no mention of the psilocybin-related mushrooms which grow in areas of Northern and Western Europe today, unless as an unnamed ingredient of the classical Persian haoma. Even so, it is unlikely that the powers of amanita muscaria were unknown, and other fungi with effects that would appear magical to the uninitiated would have included ergot (claviceps purpurea), which has been blamed for much of the later witch delusion which swept Europe. One writer makes out a case for ergot being both behind the "frenzied" etymology of the name Odin and the concepts of both the sorcerer and the werewolf or shape-changer. Its hallucinogenic effects are well-known and it is a naturally- occurring form of lysergic acid (LSD).
There is also no direct mention of cannabis. Yet cannabis, found as we have seen in prehistoric tombs, is a more likely candidate for cultivation than anything as mycologicallyperplexing as psilocybin or amanita muscaria. It was well-known in classical times, and was
used for the sails and cordage of roman galleys long before the Elizabethans decided to go to work on the English navy. In all probability it was grown primarily for its fibre content and used for rigging the Viking knorra and longships. That its other properties would have remained unknown is inconceivable. Galen wrote in the second century that it was used to promote hilarity and happiness at banquets, and Busse's discovery, noted above, of traces in a funerary urn, taking the deceased happily into the otherworld, suggests a similar use in Northern climes.
A wide variety of trees and herbs were known in Viking times, as can be illustrated by reference to more literate but still contemporary Anglo-Saxon knowledge. Cockayne, in his monumental "Leechdoms, Starcraft and Wortcunning", lists forty pages of "names of worts and trees". Amongst these are several vegetable drugs which have passed, albeit not precisely in their original form, into today's pharmacopoeia, such as hemlock, belladonna and digitalis. That they were known in the North, and used, together with less emotive and dangerous, yet equally potent, herbs is beyond dispute. Especially relevant at the present time is Cockayne's inclusion of opium poppy and cannabis amongst the herbs.
That the Northern peoples might not have had access to these plants growing fresh, though cannabis has already been discussed and the opium poppy (papaver somniferum) seeds wild in Northern gardens, is hardly a valid objection. We are discussing a group of peoples who were great travellers and traders, and they would have been inconceivably incompetent not to gather both useful samples and knowledge of the available drugs wherever they went. The reference to poison in Egil's Saga can be supplemented by other mentions. One of the traditional powers of the rune "gifu" was to avert the poisoned cup, and it was possibly a sequence of three gifu runes that Egil cut to work the charm which saved his life. Certainly it is no coincidence that until comparatively recent times many barrels bore the sequence XXX, forming a lesser invocation of the rune's power.
Probably some penetrative poison, working in exactly the same way as modern medicine's HRT or anti-smoking "patches", was used to coat the "Killing Shirt" which, whilst meant for his brother Paul, finished Earl Harold in Orkneyinga Saga. According to the story the shirt was no sooner against his body than his flesh began to quiver. He suffered dreadful pain and discomfort, took to his bed and died shortly thereafter.
Aphrodisiacs also fall within the scope of this examination. Some form of aphrodisiac may well have been responsible for the intoxication of King Harald Fairhair with Snaefrid, daughter of Svase the Lapplander, in Harald Fairhair's Saga. Whilst aphrodisiacs are not precisely poisons they are drugs, and their effect upon the mind and genitalia, certainly as far as historical mentions are concerned, is rarely wholesome. Herbs could be used as preservatives, as was the case with Mimir's head, preserved for prophetic purposes by Odin, in Ynglinga Saga. Preservation of foodstuffs, let alone less mundane items, would have to have been a known science in order to get the Northern peoples through the harsh winters their climate presented.
Yet healing would have been the main use of most herbal (drug) knowledge, however it was passed down or administered. Healing stones are as much a part of Viking lore as they were in the days of Albertus Magnus some centuries later. The sword Skofnung, allegedly owned by the hero Hrolf Kraki, could deliver a wound which would never heal (gangrene?), but a healing stone accompanied the sword which, if rubbed on the wound, would cause it to get
better. The sword owned by Hreggvid had healing stones hidden in the pommel which would take the pain and poison from any wound. One final form of drug requires a passing examination at this point. Performing any action for long enough will induce changes in the way the mind operates. The body produces endorphins, which are naturally occurring opiates, as a means of overcoming discomfort presented by repetitive or discomfiting action. Endorphins have analgesic qualities, and have been used to explain fire-walking and other phenomena, notably the repetitive and often unrequired persistence of athletes in training.
But endorphins are a naturally-occurring, behaviour-modifying drug within the human body, with as likely an explanation to contribute to the berserker, and other, "magical" phenomena to contribute as any substance examined so far. Both medicine and organic chemistry are progressing, not finished, sciences. Curative powers would have been possessed by both priest and priestess, as with Abaris and the Germani women. The more negative power of blighting would have been known, if only as a natural extension of the healing process. After all, it is impossible to know what will cure without discovering what kills. Yet the positive Thulian attitude would have kept blighting procedures to a minimum, most probably confining them to the upper echelons of the priesthood (for which read both male and female), in order to ensure against their misuse.
Healing is one of those occult skills which appears accessible to fewer people than many of the others. Diviners and so-called magi abound, but genuine and competent healers remain in a definite minority. One opinion which is emerging on this is that healers have suffered some degree of harm as children, i.e. they have been subjected to some form of suffering which has perhaps given rise to the saying: "Physician, heal thyself." The suffering may be spiritual rather than physical, and its useful transmutation into this skill would explain why there are so few healers around. After all, childhood is the period during which our natural abilities are mostly educated out of us.
Possibly there is something in a few individuals which makes having to deal with adult pressure, if not direct pain, trigger and activate some innate ability which is only permitted to manifest in the apparently greater freedom of adult life. It could be objected, in retrospect, that a great deal of childhood is involved with both suffering and the subversion of natural confidence. However, this does not explain why some possess the ability and others
Two sons of Boreas, Zetes and Calais, are known to have been winged. Abaris journeyed to Greece from Hyperborea upon an arrow, presented to him by Apollo, which permitted him to travel any distance without suffering hunger. The lightning flash has been described as Apollo's arrow, but this is obviously not what is meant here. Abaris came from the land of the midnight sun admittedly, but were he travelling as fast as light there would have been no need to prevent hunger pangs.
One possibility is that the visit was astral rather than physical, possibly with the use of Amanita Muscaria. Aristeas of Proconessus, during the seventh century BC, paid a visit to the priests of a "Northern" people and returned with the ability to fly in the spirit. But Abaris is also described as having spent eleven years in Greece and defended Pythagoras against a persecutor at Crotona. These are hardly astral realities, and whilst it could be argued that the
visit is entirely fictitious there is sufficient recorded evidence to proceed under the supposition that it was actual. The tenth century Canon Episcopi described women who believed that they rode at night on "certain beasts" with the goddess Diana (Artemis), flying over the countryside. This is the precursor of the flight to the Sabbat of medieval witches, who inherited much of the teachings of Thule and were the direct descendants of the Northern Thul and Völva. The broomstick was another favoured means of transport,
and both the witch's broom and the arrow used by Abaris could be described as long straight objects. The earliest known illustration of witches flying shows them not on a broomstick but on a staff with a point at one end and a fork, or exaggerated notch, at the other. Forked sticks were a common means of supernatural transport, as was the distaff, symbol of the Norse goddess Frigg. As early as 1450 an account of witches had them presented with a stick after rendering the devil (non-Christian mentor or even tutor) the "osculam infame", and a hundred and fifty years later reports of flying astride a white stick, even closer to the aforementioned arrow, were not uncommon.
Fig.6: Shape-shifted witches in flight from Molitor's "De Lamiis", printed in 1489.
On the surface the argument that there might be some relationship between the arrow of
Apollo and the witches' broomstick appears tenuous, especially as the flight of witches is oftdisputed. Its logic seems to be that of "cats have four legs, dogs have four legs, therefore cats are dogs." Yet to a people before Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519), or even for four centuries afterwards, would the hang-glider have seemed feasible? This is not a plunge into the pseudosciences of extra-terrestrialism, but merely a request that the reader have a sufficiently open mind to accept that what is known today may have been known before. Certainly there are secrets that have been known in the past, such as flexible glass, which remain lost even to modern technology. Man, ever one
to encourage and feed his own conceit, believes himself to be omniscient in his own age, without regard for the lost or hidden knowledge of the past. Flying through the air was a standard means of transport for gods and heroes, whatever the basic myth-system they belonged to. In Greek myth flying was the prerogative of the winged horse Pegasus, born of the blood of the Gorgon sisters of the Graeae, which in turn may be Southern equivalents of the Norse Norns. Pegasus was a mascot to the Greeks, symbolizing the soul being lifted to new heights of beauty and love. In Norse myth flying was usually accomplished with the aid of a falcon or eagle cloak which effected a shape-shift that provided the power to fly, though, like Pegasus, Sleipnir was also capable of flight, and the mounts of the valkyries possessed a similar power.
Shape-shifting is both a regular accompaniment of some forms of magical flight and a magical technique in itself. Abaris the Hyperborean was credited with this power, it being claimed that, like a second Proteus, he could assume various shapes, which may or may not have disturbed the elements with strange quakings of the earth. The best-known example of shape-shifting is the werewolf, and a character in one of the sagas, a grandfather of a formidable runemaster, had a nickname which meant "evening-wolf" because he was thought to change at twilight. Several other examples of shape-shifting also occur:
A sorceress called Skroppa tried to conceal herself and her two foster-daughters by making them appear as first, chests of ash, and second, a sow and two piglets.
Odin himself is described as being a shape-shifter in Ynglinga Saga. Whilst his body lay as if asleep or dead he'd assume the form of a bird, or beast, or fish, or worm (serpent) and be off almost instantly to distant places.
Classic shape-shift battles are also recorded. One was between a young man and a Lappish wizard, fighting each other as dogs and then as eagles. Another battle between shape-shifters saw two neighbours, Storolf and Dufthak, fighting one another as bear and boar respectively. Injuries to a shape-shifter often affected the human form, as with classic werewolf lore. A witch called Thordis took walrus form and was injured in her own body when the shape was hurt.
n Greek legend the Hyperboreans lived lives a thousand years long. Neither the life-span of Abaris nor that of the three Hyperborean nymphs is noted, but synchronisms in Geoffrey of Monmouth put Abaris at around 760 BC, whereas Pythagoras, whom he visited, lived two
centuries later. According to Hesiod nymphs, such as Loxo, Opis and Hecaerge, lived for thousands of years, and others took things a stage further by making them immortal. Another name for the Ogygia where the nymph Calypso dwelled is Nymphaea, the Isle of the Nymphs. Ambrosia had the power of bestowing immortality upon any who eat of it. Cronus rests upon a rock which bears the appearance of gold, the eternal metal, and would have been the deity responsible for temporal matters. It would have been he who granted, or controlled, the famous Thulian longevity, and an indefinite lifespan helps to explain the apparent Thulian obsession with oracles.
That Cronus was believed to be imprisoned and guarded by his son Zeus (rather than by Briareus, son of C_lus and Terra) implies a jealousy of powers which he refused to surrender. It is hardly coincidental that Cronus today has become the symbolic figure of Old Father Time. The followers of Pythagoras, who was instructed by Abaris, believed in immortality via reincarnation from one human body in one life to another in the future.
By way of the network of occult societies originally spawning the movement these beliefs were known to the Nazis. We recall Himmler expressing his views on reincarnation to senior SS officers in a speech delivered at Dachau, informing them that they had all known one another in a previous life and would all be reunited once their existing time on earth was ended. We should not forget that the Third Reich was supposed to last a thousand years, equivalent to a Thulian lifetime, and let us also remark that the favoured form of reincarnation was from the present body to that of a descendent. Even Hitler is on record as saying that "the soul and the mind migrate just as the body returns to nature." Francis King, quite rightly, reads this as a reference to the Führer's belief in reincarnation as an actuality.
A variety of basic questions tend to be asked about reincarnation. For the record the Thulian belief is that reincarnation is a valid concept and that once they have reached the point of incarnating as such humans reincarnate as humans. In simplistic terms, this is where the good guys come from.
"If there are more people alive now than in the whole of previous human history, how can so many people have previous lives?" is frequently asked. Whilst it apparently assumes that you can only have a previous life as a human it takes no account of the perceptions and societies of animals. Anyone who has ever kept more than one gerbil will know that there is a rigid social hierarchy which, whilst more basic, easily equates to even some of the better human social systems.
Here we are touching on the concept of metempsychosis, or the idea that when returning we do so as virtually anything which is animate. It is an easy concept to gravitate towards, given that with the population explosion it could be thought possible that there are more souls than bodies available today, which is a reversal in terms of past thinking. This becomes more attractive when we remember the rate at which man is killing animals off, and that there was a time in the past when animal populations were more available to host souls than they are now. With less animals alive these days it could be thought that some ex-animals are left with no choice but to incarnate as humans.
This would, for anyone not indulging in the patent fiction of animal equality, or the other patent fiction that animals do not possess souls, explain the number of imperfect (in either mental or physical terms) humans as well as why so many people endure such a miserable existence. And the idea of being an animal in another life is both extremely attractive to many people and subjectively easily demonstrable. My own little human, a dark tortoiseshell cat called Pandora, is the most beautiful, demanding and understanding woman I have known in almost a half-century of wives and lovers and it is easy, with her influence, to take the poetic utterances of such as Taliesin: "I have been a salmon... an eagle" and so on literally.
The idea of "old souls" is another which leaps to the fore. On the whole those people who can remember previous lives are also the ones who have been incarnate several times. This concept is frequently criticized on the grounds of the same mental institution housing two separate Napoleons, but the idea that this is a problem is based on humanity's restricted sense of time. Time has ben demonstrated to be a continuum, and so-called previous lives may not all have been in what is perceived as being the past. They may also have been in different locations and societies to the ones we are familiar with, either by race memory or historically ascertained actualities. Another possibility is that other lives may overlap or even run concurrently in the known environment.
There is no reason why different incarnations should be experienced sequentially. It may be easier for our limited conceptions to consider this to be the case, making the again limited assumption that the master-soul incarnates at any one time. Yet if only parts of the soul incarnate into a temporary existence, returning at death to be reunited with the master-soul proper, it then contains the sum total of experiences throughout the whole range of incarnations. This also suggests the possibility of simultaneous incarnations, with the mastersoul dividing to obtain whatever experiences it currently requires in as many bodies as may be necessary. These simultaneous incarnations may not be recalled in a demonstrable sequence. If the animal world is subject to evolution then the same is true of the spiritual world. Incarnations will vary according to the degree of evolution and the purpose of the incarnation. The memory of past incarnations is by no means available to all, suggesting that an increasing communion with the master-soul manifests as an awareness develops of personal spirituality. Sufficient information of past incarnations is included in the memory for us to learn from, and build upon, our past experiences.
"...notwithstanding the contrast between Northern and Southern Europe, where these myths gradually ripened and attained their full growth, there is an analogy between the two mythologies which shows that the seeds from whence both sprang were originally the same." H A Guerber, "Myths of the Norsemen", 1919.
It was this quotation which first set me firmly en route on my voyage of discovery to Ultima Thule. In order to understand the link which existed between the priesthoods of Greece (and later Rome) and the North we need to establish firm parallels between Northern religion and that of classical times. Ancient Rome has left us clear Greco-Roman comparisons, doubtless because of the closeness of the two cultures. The historical background out of which the myths of Rome emerge is similar to that of the Greeks where, also, the Indo-European elements were superimposed on the cultures of the indigenous peoples. The Romans were eclectic, and in later periods aspects of Greek, Syrian, Iranian and Egyptian myth played roles in Roman mythology. Despite this Roman mythology has a special character of its own and, unlike Greek mythology, which is varied, complex, and rich in poetical and speculative allusions, Roman religion and Roman myths are prosaic, prudent, and precise in both a legal and a moral sense.
Roman mythology has no pantheon on the order of the Greek Olympians. Instead it presents specific, well-defined deities capable of births, infidelities, adventures, and relations among themselves. They tend to be venerated at certain times of the year or at certain places in the city or landscape. Specific gods manifest themselves in ways particular to a town or region, and some local heroes are elevated to the status of gods.
Jupiter Hera =
Juno Poseidon =
Neptune Demeter =
Ceres Apollo =
Apollo Artemis =
Diana Athena =
Minerva Hephaestus =
Vulcan Aphrodite =
These correspondences barely scratch the surface of Roman mythology. In connection with Dumézil's general theory of Indo-European mythology the primary triad of Roman myth becomes that of Jupiter, Mars, and Quirinus. Jupiter is the Zeus pater, the Allfather, of Greek
myth, guardian of heaven and earth. Likewise Mars equates to the second aspect of the triad, under whom are assembled figures of war such as Bellona (recall the adjective "bellicose"?). Quirinus was a deity of Sabine origin in opposition to the first two aspects of the triad and finally assimilated through forceful subjugation.
Georges Dumezil saw this as a recurrent motif in the construction of the various IndoEuropean mythological systems. Quirinus takes a place as guardian of produce and fertility by association with other figures of plenty and well-being. Beneath the great gods were the minor deities of specific functions to whom a variety of festivals and sacrifices were dedicated throughout the Roman year. Still more particular were the Lares and Penates, deities who watched over the household. Direct comparisons between Classical and Norse deities exist with reasonable clarity in the names of the days of the week, though examination of individual myths will inevitably blur what might otherwise have been thought to be clear identifications:
Days Norse Roman Greek Sunday Baldur Phoebus Sun/Apollo Monday Moon Moon Moon/Artemis Tuesday Tyr Mars Ares Wednesday Odin Mercury Hermes Thursday Thor Jupiter Zeus Friday Freya Venus Aphrodite Saturday Loki Saturn Cronus
Before these associations were originated by Roman and later authors a much purer concept relating to the days of the week was, certainly at one time, being used by the Greeks. In the Pelasgian creation myth a Titaness and a Titan, equivalent to the giant Hyperboreans, were set over each of the seven planetary powers. Their later associations became the Classical and Northern deities which are listed above.
Theia (divine) and Hyperion (dweller on high) were set over the Sun. Apollo is said to have mated with Theia at some point, as is Oceanus/Poseidon. The son of Theia and Hyperion was called Helius and he has a saffron-robed sister called Eos (dawn). He daily drives his fourhorse chariot across the heavens, unharnessing his horses in the "Isles of the Blessed". Alternately they are said to rest upon the slopes of Mount Atlas. In later time Apollo and Helius became identified, and the Northern Baldur is cognate with them.
Apollo's arrows were said to be lightning flashes, but could also have been that same sunstroke which probably afflicted Aristodemus and hastened his death. The solar chariot drawn by horses has already been mentioned, and two of the sun's steeds in Classical myth, Bronte and Sterope, were thunder and lightning. These names are also given to cyclopes. A coin from Beneventum shows the head of Apollo on the obverse and a stallion, together with a pentagram, on the reverse. Here we have a remarkable combination of Apollo, horse and apple together, for the apple is the pentagram fruit, as anyone who has ever cut one in half across the core will have seen for themselves. Significantly enough a silver coin or ex voto discovered at Bath and dating from the Roman period is quite similar. The obverse bears a head and shoulders, the neck wearing a torque, the shoulders winged, obviously representing Abaris/Bladud. The obverse carries a unicorn with a right pentagram set between its front and hind legs.
Tacitus states that the Germani preferred "old-fashioned" coins which bore representations of two-horsed chariots. The sun-god in Greek myth has much in common with the gods of the North. Horses pull the chariots of both sun and moon in Norse myth. The animal was venerated as an earthly totem and sacrament of the sun in exactly the same way that bread was the sacrament of Christ. Both were magically transmuted by sacrifice. Baldur rode a shining horse from whose hoofprints bubbled clear wells of water. His wife was Nanna, identified by at least one writer as the Moon, who also rode on a bright horse. The shield is another familiar solar symbol. It is the protector of life in the same way that the sun, for the Northern nations, was the giver of life. When Tacitus speaks of the greatest disgrace of the Germani being the abandonment of their shields this is because in doing so they abandon their lives, and are only worthy of suicide by hanging, itself a sacrifice to Odin. And if the connection often postulated between the sun-father and the phallus is even scarcely to be credited, we should notice the title "Völsi" possessed by Odin, which meant both "son of god" and "horse's pizzle", which was later to be immortalized in the Northern saga of the Völsung dynasty.
Both Baldur and Apollo were regarded as beautiful. Apollo was known for his eloquence and abilities with song. Baldur had runes engraved upon his tongue, which can only have a parallel meaning. His name survives, albeit archaically, in the "bale" of bale-fire, as in the Celtic Beltane festival and the solar deity Belinus, and has the same root as the apocryphal dragon-slaying hero Bel.
Phoebe (bright moon) and Atlas (he who dares or suffers) were set over the Moon. Phoebe and Coeus (intelligence) were the parents of Leto the Hyperborean, mother of Apollo and Artemis. This assumes that Phoebe was Hyperborean herself, and that her mate may well have shared her culture even if he did not originate from it. Phoebe became Mistress of the Delphic oracle, later ceding her rights to Apollo. Atlas was the chosen leader of the Titans and the husband of Pleione, the daughter of Hesperis (or Hesperus, brother of Boreas, and associated with the modern Bengazi to the south [Latona was conveyed to Greece via a South wind] where many authors have placed the Garden of the Hesperides) and after their war with the Olympians, whilst the Titans were banished to "a British island in the farthest west", Atlas was made to carry the sky on his shoulders. He was one of the first astronomers,
It would appear likely that Phoebe, as a Moon Goddess, has become somewhat confused with her grand-daughter Artemis. Artemis was the classical goddess of hunting and was regularly depicted with a bow and a quiver of arrows. A daughter of Coeus (Zeus) and Leto, who was born in Hyperborea according to Diodorus Siculus, Artemis was Apollo's twin sister and, as he is the Sun, is most likely to have represented the moon. Certainly Delos already had a Moon-goddess called Briza before Leto arrived to give birth to her twin children there. Artemis was said to have such an aversion to marriage that she preferred to live in perpetual celibacy yet, paradoxically, presided over the travails of women and was invoked by them in childbed. Amongst her attendants were the sea nymphs, of which one was that same Philyra upon whom Cronus sired the centaur Chiron. Her chariot was drawn by two heifers or two horses, as is that of the Moon in Norse myth. She was supposed to be the same as the moon and was identified with the goddesses Persephone and Hecate. During his visit to Greece Abaris laid the foundation of the temple of Proserpine, daughter of Zeus by Ceres and known to the Greeks as Persephone, at Lacedæmon. As with her mother Ceres it was unlawful for her name to be pronounced at the Eleusinian mysteries by anyone not initiated into them. Like the sun she lived half her life in light and the other half in the darkness of Hades. It was during this latter time that she was known as Hecate.
The three Norns of Norse myth have been identified with the moon in (three out of four of) its phases, and a similar identification was made with Artemis-Persephone-Hecate. Hecate was the goddess of magic and enchantments, and had power over earth, sky, sea and hell, the air, fire, earth and water of the ancients. She was also the goddess of crossroads and was known in that capacity as Trivia. Hecate was supposed to have three heads, three bodies and three faces. Returning to the Norns once again, Skuld was said to be a variant of Skadi, which in turn has been regarded as the root of "skald", the poet and galdr-master of the North.
The seat of Artemis' worship was Ephesus, where she was represented with symbols that create a further identification with Terra and Cybele. Like Apollo she had her oracles, with Egypt, Cilicia and Ephesus being the best known.
Twin brother and sister for sun and moon is an integral part of Norse myth as well as classical belief, though there is an important difference. In the Northern lands the moon (Máni) is male and the sun (Sól) is female. They are the children of Mundilfari, identified with the skyfather, though their mother is nowhere mentioned. Each drives across the heavens in a horsedrawn chariot. A model of a sun-disk in a horse-drawn chariot, which has been conservatively dated to before 600 BC (a minimum of a hundred and fifty years before the visit of Abaris to Pythagoras) was found at Trundholm Mose in North Zealand. According to Branston the artistic style of the image "betrays connections with Greece," thus postulating a connection between the Northern lands and classical culture some three hundred years before Pytheas, in first sighting Thule, unwittingly exposed himself to the unwarranted ridicule of his uninitiated and therefore uninformed contemporaries.
Artemis is not the friendliest goddess of classical myth. Her name in Sparta was given as "cutter" or "butcher", and her treatment of Actaeon, whom she hunted to death with her hounds, left a great deal to be desired. So too did Skadi's vengeful treatment of Loki for the death of her father Thjazzi, when she tied the poisonous snake which was to drip venom into his face above him at his final imprisonment. Skadi was married to Njord, often taken as the
sea-god, and the marriage of the moon with the waters/tides is worth recalling here. Like the celibate Artemis, who still managed to indulge herself with at least two recorded partners, though in Skadi's case for apparently different reasons, she could not live with her husband and they parted. Also like Artemis, but in an admittedly dissimilar climate, Skadi was always off on her snowshoes, hunting with bow and arrow. Skadi's name is of doubtful etymology according to Mallet, but Faulkes has no such qualms in rendering a translation as "harm, injury, destruction, loss". There is also an equivalent in the now archaic English word "scathe", or harm. Her main claim to fame is that she was, and still is, the patron goddess of Scandinavia, which takes its name from her. Like Artemis, whose mother we should remember is Hyperborean, she has sky connections in that her father's eyes were thrown up into the sky to become a constellation (according to Reuter identified with the [twin] Castor and Pollux stars of Gemini). There is thus much more than the hunting goddess connection to link the two deities.
The link between Skadi and the moon has yet to be established to tie her to her Southern counterpart, but it is coming. The Danes regard "Moon-folk", a species of elves, as particularly malevolent, recalling the etymology of Skadi's name. The moon is also malevolent in "A Midsummer Night's Dream", being "...governess of floods, pale in her anger...". Another association involves whiteness, which led the alchemists, astrologers and others to connect the moon to the metal silver, and Skadi left Njord because she preferred her snow-whitened, silvery mountains to his grey-blue seas. Even in traditional or modern witchcraft the moon is not an automatic friend. It is something to be placated with monthly Esbats, and the superstitions connected with the dark of the moon are legion, like the demons of a Christian Hell (with two Ls). This is both Skadi and Artemis, whom the Greeks regarded as a poisoner as opposed to the cure-bestowing Apollo, deities more male in their behaviour than female in exactly the way that the moon is unequivocally male in Norse myth.
Dione (divine queen) and Crius were set over Mars. Dione, goddess of the oak-tree and the dove and a reputed mother of Aphrodite and Dionysus, equates with Rhea, wife of Cronus. She was said to be one of the Pleiades. Crius was the father of Astræus (starry), who in turn was the putative father of Boreas according to an alternative version of the myth.
Again there is difficulty in making a clear equation with classical times. Ares and Tyr are the most likely Greek and Norse candidates for attribution here, on the surface. Tyr is the fighting god, the general of the pantheon, whereas Thor is more the foot-soldier and Odin the statesman. Despite his nobility and reputation for straight-dealing Tyr is forced to swear a false oath when the Fenris Wolf is bound and loses his right hand to the beast as a penalty.
Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera and, as Mars, was a favourite deity amongst the Romans. He once changed his favourite into a cock, drove a chariot drawn by two horses and had horses and wolves sacrificed to him. As Ares he possessed two of the mares begotten by Boreas - Psylla and Harpinna. His children were numerous but, with the exceptions of Cupid and, reputedly, Romulus, unremarkable. Tyr was the son of Odin and (probably) Frigg, the Northern equivalents of the Greek Zeus and Hera. He was considered the patron deity of the sword and to have the Valkyries at his
command. The equation of Tyr and Ares appears mostly on the basis of their shared abilities with regard to warfare, but this does not prevent it being historical fact. Ares is called "Thingsus" on a Frisian inscription of the early third century found in Britain. This will make more sense if we acknowledge Tyr as a lawgiver rather than a warrior, with power over the "thing" or assembly. Tislund in Zealand, named for Tyr, was an assembly-ground or "thingstead". This is where the legal battles of words were fought.
Returning to Tuesday, the Tyr's-day of the Northern peoples and the French Mardi, Mars'-day or the Latin Martis deis, the identification strengthens. Yet whilst there may be parallels between Greek and Norse deities there are few clear identifications to be made, as we are about to discover.
Metis (counsel) and Coeus (Intelligence) were set over Mercury. Metis was said to have sprung from the union of the air with the earth mother. She delivered Poseidon from having been devoured by his father Cronus by persuading Zeus to ask his mother Rhea for an emetic potion to mix with Cronus' honey-drink. Zeus afterwards devoured Metis, who was later to be the cause of the birth of Athena from Zeus's head. Coeus has been identified with Thoth and was supposed to be the founder of astronomical wisdom.
In Norse and classical terms the most likely deities to be encountered here are Hermes (Mercury) and Odin. Odin is the Allfather, patron of poets, warriors and statesmen and god of the dead, war, and magic. Hengist is recorded as having described him to Vortigern as Mercury, after whom the fourth day of the week was named. This is, however, the work of a Christian commentator schooled in the classics as the only extant literature of the period. He is also,
under the name of Voten (etymologically identical to Odin/Woden) the Norse god who came over the waters to Yucatan, according to the "Popol Voh". Tacitus says that Mercury was worshipped by the Germani above all other gods, with Hercules and Mars (identified as Thor and Tyr) being appeased differently and in a lesser fashion. Yet the identification, whilst clearly made, is not so straight-forward. Odin is a father-figure, with most of his offspring noticeable amongst the Northern pagan pantheon. Mercury/Hermes may have sired many children, but only the minor deities Pan and Priapus own Mercury as their sire and both are deformed. And whilst Odin may have a reputation for betrayal, based upon his need to assemble the finest warriors to aid him at the Ragnarok, he is rarely a thief and never a messenger.
Yet there is another Hermes, closer to Odin as seeker and giver of wisdom, who requires from us at least a passing consideration. This is Hermes Trismegistus, hermes the ThriceGreat, who derives from the Egyptian Thoth and is remembered in the word "Hermetics", which is still used of certain magical orders, including the now out-of-date if not actually defunct Golden Dawn, today. This Hermes is traditionally responsible for the alchemical text known as the Emerald Tablet which contains equal amounts of common sense and mystery. As with Abaris and Zoroaster he is said to have been a (divine) teacher of Pythagoras.
Odin's pragmatism is legendary, and has given rise to false accusations of treachery. He carries the spear Gungnir, which never misses its mark and has runes on the shaft which uphold the law. He rides the eight-legged stallion Sleipnir and gathers warriors to fight beside him at the Ragnarok and feast in Valhalla until it comes. He won the runes for mankind by an act of personal sacrifice and gave his right eye for wisdom.
Themis (order), whose daughters were the Seasons and the Three Fates, from which she was known as a triple-goddess, and Eurymedon (wide rule) were set over Jupiter. Themis it was who controlled the calendar of thirteen months and ordered the seasons by means of the solstices and equinoxes. She possessed the gift of prophecy and regularly advised Zeus. She it was who enabled Deucalion and Pyrrha to renew the human race after it was deluged by Zeus in anger against the sons of Lycaon, son of Pelasgus. Like Phoebe she is supposed to have been a Mistress of the Delphic Oracle. The three aspects of her triplicity were Anthea (flowery) Goddess of Spring, Hyperea (overhead) Goddess of Summer and Pitthea (pinegoddess) Goddess of Autumn. Eurymedon may have been the father of Prometheus.
The Celtic god Taranis, worshipped by Celts in the Rhineland, is regarded as the meeting of the two concepts we are about to explore. The classical association here is between Thor and Zeus, but it is less strong than that between Thor and Dionysus (Bacchus), a child of Zeus by Semele. The oak was the tree most likely to be struck during a thunder-storm. Dionysus was born during a thunder-storm and amongst Thor's attributes are close links with the
thunder. Ivy grows on oak and thus also contains the thunder. This was the reason why it was a favoured fire-making stick amongst the Greeks. Thor is Odin's best-known son. A red-bearded giant-whacker wielding the magic hammer Mjollnir, killing giants seems more a hobby than an occupation for him. Not very bright, but with thunder and lightning in his armoury, he yet succeeds in being soft-hearted and popular and resourceful when he has to be. Odin must have been extremely fond of Thor, the amount of time he spent ragging his son. Thor is married to Sif, the corn-goddess, and when Loki cuts off Sif's wonderful hair a wig of spun gold has to be provided until it grows back.