Friday 26 September 2014

Warmth - Fire - Sun

I would like to present here an amazing word cluster which I have found in Serbian and Irish. The word cluster is related to heat (warmth), the most basic sources of heat and the most basic uses of heat. The fact that this word cluster relates to such basic terms, suggests that it originated very early, maybe even in Neolithic and maybe even in Paleolithic time. Apart from Serbian and Irish, this word cluster is found in part in other "Slavic" languages and in traces in other "Celtic" languages. I would really appreciate any additional information regarding the existence of the words from this word cluster in other languages. 

Heat is extremely important for sustaining life. Without heat there is no life. But the amount of heat has to be just right. Too little heat and the water in our bodies freezes, the chemical processes in our bodies stop and we freeze and die. Too much heat and the water in our bodes evaporates, the chemical processes in our bodies go our of control and we burn and die. The main source of heat in our solar system is the Sun. The reason why there is no life on the planets which are closer to the Sun than Earth is that the amount of heat that reaches them from the sun is too big. On those planets the Sun in the sky is a "blazing scorching ball of fire". The reason why there is no life on the planets which are further from the Sun than Earth is that the amount of heat that reaches them from the sun is too small. On those planets the Sun in the sky is at best a "cold white disc" and at worst a "cold white speck". Luckily the Earth is at the "just right" distance from the Sun so that the amount of heat that we get from the Sun is "just right" to sustain life. On Earth the Sun in the sky is "that warm thing which heats us up".

In Serbian we have these words and expressions related to the Sun and and heat: 

grejati, grijati - to heat
greje, grije - it heats, it warms.
greje nas, grije nas, greje ni, grije ni - heats us, warms us
sunce grane - sun appears, dawns, starts warming
sunce greje, grije - sun heats, sun warms
sunce sine - sun starts shining
sunce sije, sija - sun shines
grejan, grijan - heated, warm

In Irish, the Sun, the main source of heat is called "grian", which in Serbian literally means heated, warm. The sun, "grian", is "that warm thing in the sky", the source of heat which "grije nas" warms us.

Official etymology for the Irish word grian states that the word comes from  Old Irish grían, from Proto-Indo-European *ghreinā, from Proto-Indo-European *gher- (“to shine, glow; grey”)" which of course has nothing to do with burning and heating.  

This makes absolutely no sense. Two major sources of light on earth are the sun and fire, both generating light through burning and producing heat at the same time. Can someone please explain to me how can the name for the Sun, which is yellow - orange, hot, bright, alive (like burning fire), and which gives off both heat and light (like burning fire), be logically derived from the same root used for color grey, which is cold, dead? Gray ash is what is left after fire dies and there is no more light and heat. Does anyone really think that ancient people would do something like that? Even natural shiny grey objects, like moon, stars are linked with cold, night and darkness, not heat, day and light. And all man made grey shiny objects like metal and mirror reflect light, they don't generate it. Plus all the man made shining grey things are much younger than the word for sun. This why I don't agree with the official etymology for the word "grian" and why I think the word "grian" meaning sun, comes from "grije" meaning heats and ultimately from gar, gor meaning fire, burning.

Now someone pointed to me that the above official etymology has changed. Now we read: 

From Proto-Celtic *grēnā. Further etymology uncertain. Possibly from Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰer- (“to be warm, hot”).

Matasović reconstructs Proto-Celtic *gʷrensnā, from Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰrenso- (“warm”) (whence Sanskrit घ्रंस (ghraṃsa, “heat of the sun”) and Proto-Celtic *gʷrensos, whence Middle Welsh gwres (“heat (of the sun, fire)”), compare also Proto-Celtic *gʷrīns, whence derived *gʷrīnsā > grís (“heat (of the sun), fire, embers”).

Now this is more like it. But interestingly this PIE root can be derived from Slavic "grije" (heats) which is not even mentioned as a cognate :) Why?

But the heat that reaches the Earth from the Sun is not always and everywhere the same. Depending on the longitude and altitude, the time of the year and time of the day, the heat given off by the sun can vary dramatically. As a consequence the outside temperature rises and falls. If the outside temperature becomes too high or too low, this can severely affect the biochemical processes in our bodies. This is why the living beings had to develop extremely complex heating and cooling systems and processes in order to regulate their body temperature in a constantly changing temperature of their living environment. 

Like most of the other higher animals, humans developed ability to produce their own heat from food and to warm their own bodies. But producing heat is extremely energy consuming. The colder it gets, the more heat needs to be produced to heat the body up and more food needs to be consumed to sustain this heat production. The problem is that the colder it gets, the less food there is to be eaten. This makes survival in the cold climate very difficult and this is why originally most people lived in warm and temperate areas where it never gets too cold.  

But even in warm and temperate areas it sometimes gets cold. In a cold environment, most of the heat produced and distributed in the body leaks out into the surrounding through the body surface. Animals developed thick furs which insulate them from the environment and prevent the leaking of the body heat out through the body surface. Animals also cuddle, huddle, hug, pile up, get close together, lie on top of each other, to minimize the total surface through which the heat can escape and to maximize the usage of the body heat of the whole group.

People also developed body hairs, but they were nowhere near as good as animal furs in insulating the body from the cold. But luckily humans also developed large powerful brains which allowed them to figure out many different ways to wrap, cover their bodies and prevent the body heat from leaking into the environment. First people also cuddled, huddles and hugged, piled up together and on top of each other. Then they realized that they can also pile dried leaves, grass, moss, branches on top of themselves to create insulating shelters. Eventually humans invented sharp and pointy tools with which they killed fury animals and skinned them. To skin the animal you scrape its skin off using a sharp blade. In Serbian the verb to scrape, scratch is "krz", the word "krzano" means scraped, and the word for fur is "krzno", which literally means what you scrape off the animal. Once the fur is scraped off the animal body and once it is cleaned and tanned to prevent rotting, the fur can be wrapped around the body to stop the body heat from leaking into the cold environment.

Wrapping your body with animal fur as a way of keeping warm is so efficient that it continued to be used almost unchanged until today.

The national library of Aurstralia has these great images of Aboriginal people wearing animal skins to keep themselves warm in the 19th century. 

And here is a picture of a Romanian shepherd today, wearing animal fur cloak (kabanica) and fur hat (šubara). 

People then developed ways to harness wool and other plant and animal fibers and produce cloths and clothes to complement animal skins as insulators, but the idea was still the same: wrap yourself tight with insulating materials to prevent body heat from leaking out. Cover yourself with insulating materials. Get close together, push together, huddle, cuddle, hug, pile up to minimize the group body surface and maximize the usage of the body heat of the whole group.

Irish word "gar" means near, nearness, proximity, get close. In Scots Gaelic the same word "gar" means warm. In Irish the word "gor" means warmth. In Breton the same word "gor" means burning and in Welsh the word "gwrês" means heat and "*gorô" means I warm. The word "gar" is a root of the word "garadh" which means warm, from people huddling close together for warmth. In Scots Gaelic the word "gar" also means us. Us, close together, huddling for warmth...

In Serbian, Czeck and Polish we have all these words which relate to closeness and movement from and to closeness, which seem to all come from the same root:

g(a)r, g(u)r = put close to, next to, press, push, move closer, move towards. 

Serbian: gariti, gurati - push

Serbian: grnuti, grtati, grliti - gather, bring close together, hug

Polish: garnąć, gartąć - gather, bring close together, rake, cuddle, grab, hug

Serbian: ogrnuti, ogrtati - wrap around. ogrtač - robe, cape
Polish: ogarnąć - embrace, encompass. encircle, invade, wrap around, cloth
Czech:  ohrnout - Wrap, roll
From o + gar + nj + ti = around + put next to + it + you

Serbian: zagrnuti, zgrtati - cover it, wrap it. 
Czech: zahrnout - cover, cover with earth, fill, comprise , embrace, include, smother

From za + gar + nj + ti = on, after + put next to + it + you

Serbian: nagrnuti - push press through. 
Czech: nahrnout - pile up , heap up , mound

From na + gar + nj + ti = on + put next to, press against, push + it + you =

Serbian: odgrnuti, odgurnuti - uncover, push away, clear (away)
Czech: odhrnout - remove, plow off/away, open, draw aside, clear (away)

From od + gar, gur + nj + ti = from + close to, next to, press, push, move + it + you

Czech: vyhrnout - push away, rake out, bulldoze away, roll up 

I am wandering if the root for the above words was "gar" which lost "a" in Serbian and Czech or "gr" which got "a" added in Polish and Irish? The reason why I believe that the original root was "gr" are these words in Sanskrit: 

गृह्णाति (gṛhṇāti) - take, hold,grasp, understand, take back, claim, pick, approve, put on, lay the hand on, grapple, follow, take possession of, receive into the mind, captivate, observe, abstract, imprison, undertake
गृभ्णाति (gṛbhṇāti) - obtain, admit, undergo, include, take away, consider as, pluck, begin, mention, take on one's self, gain over, recognise, choose, overpower, apprehend, understand, keep, take back, draw water, put on 
रभ् (rabh) - clasp, embrace, desire vehemently, take hold of, grasp, wish to embrace, take hold of, keep fast, be grasped or clasped, firmly grip or grasp, seize, lay hold on

The first word is the equivalent of the Serbian word grnuti. The second is the equivalent of the Serbian word grabiti, to grab. The third word is the equivalent of the Serbian word rabiti, to use. Is it possible it comes from g(a)r + rab = bring close, get close, move towards + take, use? Or maybe from ga + rab = him, it + use, take?

Also we have the word "grupa" meaning group. In Serbian we have words hrpa, vrpa, rpa all meaning pile. Is it possible that the word grupa comes from g(a)r + rpa = pul, push close together, get close together, be close + pile? Even the official etymology which you can find in the above link says that the word relates to the meaning pile, so it is quite possible that I could be right.

So originally people stayed warm by exposing themselves to the sun or by huddling together or wrapping themselves with insulating materials like furs and clothes. Then later they started using fire. They were still wrapping themselves with clothes and animal furs, and they will still huddling and cuddling together, but now they were doing this while sitting around the fire.

And in Serbian and Irish we find that the words related to fire, burning, heating using fire have the same root found in the words for sun, heat and getting close together, root gr (gar, gor, gur). 

Serbian word comes from Proto Slavic гореть (goreti) - burn

From Proto-Slavic *gorḗti to burn.
Church-Slavonic: горѣти, горю (gorti) - to burn
Russian: гореть (goret) - to burn
Ukrainian: горiти (goriti) - to burn
Bulgarian: горя́ (gorja) - to burn
Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian: го̀рети (goreti) - to burn
Slovenian: goreti - to burn
Czech: hořet - to burn
Slovakian: horieť - to burn
Polish: gorący - to burn
Lusatian: horcy, *horucy - to burn


Lithuanian: gariù, garė́ti - burn, erupt, flaire with anger (goreti - burn in Serbian); išgarė́ti - evaporate (izgoreti - burn out in Serbian); gãras - steam (gori - burns in Serbian)
Armenian: ջերմ (jerm) - warm (gorim - I am burning in Serbian)
Prussian: gorme - heat (gorim - I am burning in Serbian) 
Albanian: zjarm - heat (s gorim - with I am burning in Serbian)

Sanskrit: ghRNoti, gharNoti, gharNute - burn, shine (goreti - burn in Serbian)
Sanskrit: gharma - warmth; 
Hindi: garam - warm; 

Avestan: garema - warm; 
Persian: garm - warm, hot (gorim - I am burning in Serbian)

Old Armenian: ǰerm - warm

We also find these fire related "gr" words in other "Celtic" languages. I would be grateful for any updates on this part of the word cluster from Breton and Welsh speakers.

Scots Gaelic: gar - warm
Breton: gor - burning
Welsh: gwrês - heat and "*gorô" means I warm

And then there are the Irish and the Serbian languages:


goraim -, I heat, warm, burn; bask; hatch.
gorim - warm

Serbian (Slavic):

gori - burns; goreti = gori ti = it burns, to burn

gorim - I am burning

What is interesting is that in Serbian the word "gori" means burns but also "up, upwards". 

gor, gore, gori - up, upwards

The fire goes up and the water falls down. The things go up in flame. Serbs used to burn their dead so that they can get to heaven, which is up in the sky, quicker, carried on the flames. What "gor" (burns) goes "gor" (up). Did the verb to burn come from the word for up, going up?


gor - warmth
garadh - warm
goradh -  act of burning; blushing; heat; déan do ghoradh, take a shin heat, incubation, keeping warm
garamhail - useful, profitable, neighborly; warm, snug, friendly;
gorai - place where chicks come out of eggs
gríos - embers, hot ashes; heat; fire; pimples, blotches, spots or rash on the skin;
gríosach - aighe, pl. -acha, f., fire, burning embers; ashes containing small coals of fire; glowing
griosagh - fire


gori - burns
grejan, grijan - heated, warm

gorionik - burner, torch
gorešnjak - big heat, hot weather
gorotina - what burns, burned place
gariti - to burn, to rush, to go fast
nagariti - put branches into the fire, feed the fire
garište - place where the fire used to burn
zgarište - something burned down
zgoreljak - something burned


gris (old Irish) - fire
grios(c) - broil, grill
gríscín - a broiled piece of meat; a piece of meat suitable for broiling; the
word occurs also in a place name, Gleann Ghríscín, a townland in East Kerry, but whether
precisely in this sense is uncertain.


grejan, grijan - cooked


garr - wooden pulp
gairg, -e, -eacha, f., a cormorant, a diver, black bird.
garrail - dirty


gar - hot ashes, soot
garav, garast, gares - covered in soot, black, dirty
garavilo - black color, paint
gara, garča, garka - names for black, dark animals
garvan - raven
garagan - black person, gypsy

Sanskrit: aGgara - charcoal


garach, -aighe, id.garg - fierce, rough, cruel; bitter, acrid.
gorach - heat up, foolish, fickle; inflamed, heated.
gargaigh - make harsh, bitter; exacerbate, intensify (heat anger)
gairgeach - harsh, gruff, surly, irritable
goirt - bitter, sour, salt; sad, painful (also guirt).
gríosaim - I urge, encourage, abet, incite, provoke, exasperate.
gríosadh - act of burning, stimulating, urging; encouragement, excitement (also gríosughadh).
grís-neimh - burning venom, violence.


gorak, gorni, gorčaiv, gorčiv, grenkav, grk - bitter, acidic
ogorčen - angry
garaknuti, garnuti - to encourage, to provoke, to excite, to inflame, to make fire bigger
žgaravica, gorušica - stomach acid which causes burning sensation, reflux


garán - underwood, thicket
garrán - grove
crann - tree (probably originally gran)


gora - forest, mountain (the thing which is tall, high and it burns)
grana, granjka - branch (of a tree), the things that burn
granje - branches, the things that burn
granjes - branched, with many branches
granjak - thicket, bushes
grm - bush, undergrowth
grmes - branched, with many branches
ugarak, ugarci - smoldering branches
ogrev - firewood

Old Norse: grein - branch; old Prussian: Garrin, garrjan - tree

I love this sentence in Irish: garrán (grove) is the place where we find lots of crann, originally probably gran (trees). Trees are made from garr. When crann (tree) is put into griosagh (fire) it gives us gorim (heat) and turns to grios (hot ashes) which you can use to grios(c) (cook).

I don't know about the rest of the Indoeuropeans, but the Irish (Celts) and the Serbians (Slavs) seem to have spent a lot of time together huddled around fires talking about warmth to develop this kind of word cluster....

I have left my favorite words from this cluster for the end of this post. 

Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique that involves the cutting and burning of plants in forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology. It is typically key in shifting cultivation agriculture, and in transhumance livestock herding.

During the Neolithic Revolution, which included agricultural advancements, groups of hunter-gatherers domesticated various plants and animals, permitting them to settle down and practice agriculture, which provides more nutrition per hectare than hunting and gathering. Due to this decrease in food from hunting, as human populations increased, agriculture became more important. Some groups could easily plant their crops in open fields along river valleys, but others had forests blocking their farming land.

In this context, humans used slash-and-burn agriculture to clear more land to make it suitable for plants and animals. Thus, since Neolithic times, slash-and-burn techniques have been widely used for converting forests into crop fields and pasture. Fire was used before the Neolithic as well, and by hunter-gatherers up to present times. Clearings created by fire were made for many reasons, such as to draw game animals and to promote certain kinds of edible plants such as berries.

So in order to clear land for agriculture you burn the forest. This clears the land of trees but is also fertilizes the soil. This burned patch of land becomes a field where you either plant crops or you graze cattle when the grass grows on it. In the south Serbian dialect we have a set of words which mean both the burned down forest and the field, meadow. 

garine, garinje, ogorevina - place where forest burned down
garina, garinka, garinje, ogorevina - meadow, field, clearing created when forest burned down.

What is interesting, is that we find the same words in Irish. But after seeing all the other words from this cluster that is quite to be expected:

garrai - field, garden (from gar + e = burned + is)
gort - field (from gor + to = burned + that, place).
goirtín - a little field; a small field of corn

It is quite possible that these words were the first words used for field and they could have survived together with the rest of this amazing word cluster since the neolithic time. What does this tell us about the link between the Irish ("Celtic") and the Serbian ("Slavic") languages? Should we reexamine this diagram?

Sunday 14 September 2014

Ojkanje - the wolf singing

In the mountains of the Balkans we find a peculiar type of "old style" singing which can only be compared with the howling of wolfs. The singing can be solo or group singing. If it is done in a group it has the same polyphonic characteristics as the howling of a wolf pack

Gray wolves howl to assemble the pack (usually before and after hunts), to pass on an alarm (particularly at a den site), to locate each other during a storm or unfamiliar territory and to communicate across great distances. Wolf howls can under certain conditions be heard over areas of up to 130 km2 (50 sq mi). Wolf howls are generally indistinguishable from those of large dogs. Male wolves give voice through an octave, passing to a deep bass with a stress on "O", while females produce a modulated nasal baritone with stress on "U". Pups almost never howl, while yearling wolves produce howls ending in a series of dog-like yelps. Howling consists of a fundamental frequency which may lie between 150 and 780 Hz, and consists of up to 12 harmonically related overtones. The pitch usually remains constant or varies smoothly, and may change direction as many as four or five times. Howls used for calling pack mates to a kill are long, smooth sounds similar to the beginning of the cry of a horned owl. When pursuing prey, they emit a higher pitched howl, vibrating on two notes. When closing in on their prey, they emit a combination of a short bark and a howl. When howling together, wolves harmonize rather than chorus on the same note, thus creating the illusion of there being more wolves than there actually are. Lone wolves typically avoid howling in areas where other packs are present. Wolves from different geographic locations may howl in different fashions: the howls of European wolves are much more protracted and melodious than those of North American wolves, whose howls are louder and have a stronger emphasis on the first syllable. The two are however mutually intelligible, as North American wolves have been recorded to respond to European-style howls made by biologists.
In Serbian it is called "ojkanje". The center of this musical tradition seems to be in the area of the Dinaric alps and in the Balkan mountains. Ethnographers from the end of the 19th and the 20th century, which researched this type of traditional singing in the Dinaric alps and Bosnia, all report that it was part of the tradition of the "Orthodox population" meaning "Serbians". Czech historian and ethnographer Ljudevit Kuba, writes in the text ”Narodna glazbena umjetnost u Dalmaciji” (Zbornik za narodni život i običaje južnih Slavena, Zagreb, 1899) that ojkanje is only found in Serbian populated areas of the western Balkans. Antun Dobronić writes in his essay "Ojkanje" (Zbornik za narodne običaje i život Južnih Slavena, Zagreb, 1915) that the only people who sing like this are Orthodox Serbs. Dušan Umićević writing in magazine Razvitak, Banjaluka, 1939 says "No Catholic or Muslim sings like this in Bosnia"Stanko Opačić Ćanica writes in "Narodne pjesme Korduna", Zagreb, 1972 that ojkanje was also known as "Cyrillic singing" referring to the fact that only Orthodox Serbs sang like this and they were the ones who wrote using Cyrillic alphabet.

This is a Serbian singing group from Nevesinje doing ojkanje.

Similar types of polyphonic "old style" singing is also found in other parts of the Balkans.  

Here is the list of examples of this type of singing from Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Greece (Epirus, Makedonia). 

Serbian Old style singing

Croatian Old Style singing

Albanian Old Style singing

Macedonian Old Style singing from Rodopi mountains

Bulgarian Old Style singing

Romanian Old Style singing (Doina)

Epirus Old Style singing

Greek Makedonia

We can find similar type of old style singing in Sardinia, Basque country, Ireland, Estonia and Georgia. But the singing seems to become less animal and more human like, the further away you go from the Balkans. 

Sardinian old style singing

Basque old style singing:

Irish Sean Nós (Old style) Singing

Estonian Old Style singing

Polish highlands Old Style singing

Georgian Old Style singing. I have to put a big questionmark here. This is the only example I could find where Georgian choral singing loses its characteristic harmony and "disintegrates" into wolf singing.

I was recently made aware of a type of singing from Georgian region of Guria, western Georgia,  where it is called "guruli krimanchuli". This is the old style true and true. What is interesting is that this version of wolf singing has parts which strangely resemble Yodling from Alps...What is interesting is that this is the part of Georgia where we also find higher percentage of the I2a haplogroup...

What is extremely interesting is that this type of singing is found only in Northern Greece where it is known as Dorian singing. Dorians came from the north, from the Balkans, and there is still a debate about their ethnic origin.

How old is this type of singing? Is this maybe the oldest, the most primitive type of singing which dates from the time when people still learned from the animals? Is this neolithic or maybe even paleolithic singing? Why is this type of singing so concentrated in the Balkans? Is it linked to any particular genetic tribal group? It is interesting that this type of singing has its epicenter in the Balkans, which is also the epicenter of the I2a haplogroup and that it is also found in Sardinia, another I2a haplogroup hot spot. Is this type of singing linked to the I2a haplogroup tribes?

The grey wolf was once one of the world's most widely distributed mammal, after humans and lions, living throughout the northern hemisphere north of 15°N latitude in North America and 12°N in India. Event today, gray wolves are one of most widespread land mammals, inhabiting various ecosystems throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and a small portion of Africa.

Considering the distribution of wolves I would expect to find similar type of singing throughout the wolf distribution area. However it seems that this particular "wolf" singing either only developed in certain cultures, or was only preserved to this day in only the most culturally conservative communities. 

I would appreciate any links to recordings of "wolf" singing from other cultures which are not in the above list so that I can update this article.

Every group singing is ceremonial. Group singing confirms and reinforces the group bond. Animals use it for precisely this purpose and I believe that originally humans used group singing in the same way. There is no surprise then to find group singing at the heart of religious ceremonies. Early medieval Balkan Christian music developed directly from the group wolf singing. 

Serbian Christian chanting:

Greek Christian chanting:

Albanian Christian chanting 

This is a very good recording of the hymn to the Mother of God chanted on the Holy Liturgy at Serbian Dečani Monastery by an Orthodox Byzantine Choir of the Christ's Resurrection Cathedral in Tirana: 

Bulgarian Christian chanting:

Thursday 11 September 2014

Grange circle

In several of my previous posts I have been talking about sun circles. I talked about their origin in my post about Henges - rondel enclosures. I talked about how they were used as solar observatories for determining the beginning of the lunisolar calendar in my post about Calendars. In my post about Stone circles on mountain Devica, I talked about the solar observatory called Bogovo Gumno from Serbia, and I said that this sun circle can help us understand the purpose of the stone circle complex known as Grange circles from Ireland and the meaning and significance of the term Grange itself. In this post I will finally talk about Grange circle.

Grange stone circle (Lios na Gráinsí or Fort of the Grange) 300m west of Lough Gur in County Limerick, Ireland, is situated beside the Limerick-Kilmallock road, 4 km north of Bruff. Composed of 113 standing stones, the Grange Stone Circle is the largest and finest in Ireland. Seán P. Ó Ríordáin excavated the Grange Stone Circle in 1939. During the excavations he found more than 4,000 shards of pottery, dating from the Early Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age, spanning a period of some 2,600 years.

Photo by David Hogwood
Seán P. Ó Ríordáin concluded that the Grange circle was a site of great importance, most likely of a ritual nature, from possibly as far back as the Early Neolithic period.

I believe that Grange circle was originally a threshing floor. I also believe the Grange circle is an example of a threshing floor which was eventually turned into a temple dedicated to the Thundering Sun, the god of weather, god of grain, Crom Dubh, Hromi Daba, Grom Div, the Thunder Giant. 

Threshing floor is a flat, smooth and hard surface used for threshing, a process of separating the grain from the straw and husksThe process of threshing is performed generally by spreading the sheaves on the threshing floor and causing oxen, cattle or horses to tread repeatedly over them. The animals are made to walk in a circle. In order to make the animals walk in circles, a man needs to stand in the center of the pile of grain which is being threshed and restrict and direct the movement of the oxen, cattle or horses using reins or rope. Alternatively a central pole can be erected, to which the animals are tied and then they are urged to walk in circles by a man walking behind them.The threshing floors also usually have walls built around them to prevent the grain from being blown off the threshing surface by the wind. This is done to mark the edge of the threshing circle and to prevent the grain being blown away. This creates a flat shallow pan like circular enclosure with a compacted hard surface and a central pole.

The Grange stone circle comprises a ring of continuous upright stones up to 2.8m high, with a diameter of 45m and backed by an earthen bank 9m wide and about 1.2m tall (the wall). The entrance on the eastern side is paved and flanked by upright stones. Clay has been packed down to a depth of 60 cm across the whole area of the enclosure (compacted hard surface). Its near perfect shape and the discovery of a post hole in the very centre of the enclosure, indicates that the circle was measured out from a central stake with a rope (central pole). Here is the picture of the Grange circle.

This creates a flat shallow pan like circular enclosure with a compacted hard surface and a central pole, a threshing floor, a grange. 

In my post called Bogovo Gumno - God's threshing floor I explained how in the Balkans the threshing floors are linked to solar cereal farming agricultural cults. I explained how they were until very recently used not only for threshing grain but also as solar observatories and as religious ceremonial grounds. 

Agriculture is shaped around the weather. At certain times of the year, certain things had to be done by peasant farmers or crops would not have grown. Farming, in this sense, is  controlled by the weather and the weather is controlled by the Sun and its cycle.

In order to know when certain activity needed to be done, the farmers needed to know the exact date. To determine the exact date, the farmers used threshing floors as a solar observatories.

Grange circle in Ireland was also used as a solar observatory. The stone circle is aligned with the rising sun at the Summer Solstice on the morning of which the sun shines on top of the largest stone in the stone circle known as Crom Dubh's stone casting the shadow directly into the centre of the circle. 

These two amazing pictures are taken from a great photo article about Grange circle by Tom Nelligan, which you can find on "The Standing Stone" blog.

If you are able to determine the exact date of the summer solstice, you are able to determine the beginning of the solar year. And that allows you to use 12 months lunar calendar for calculating time and determining the exact date repeatedly and accurately. Being able to determine the exact date, gives you the power to predict the weather, to predict "the will" of the Sun god. 

And this is why it is important for the cereal farmers to determine the exact date. The cereals can only be sown after the soil thaws and the temperature of the soil reaches certain temperature. The minimum germination soil temperature for wheat, barley and oats is about 5 degrees Celsius but the optimal germination temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius. So the sowing has to be done at the time of the year when the temperature is rising between 5 degrees and 20 degrees Celsius. This is the temperature of the period between the end of March and the end of April. After the cereal germinates, it then takes, depending on the temperature,  approximately 103 days for spring wheat to grow and ripen. This is why the harvest time is the end of July beginning of August.

And this is why it is "the will" of the Sun that people plow and harrow in March, sow in April, and harvest in August.  

Here is the list of the main agricultural activities per month. The dates are most appropriate to central and northern Europe. In southern Europe the growing season is going to be longer and drier and the winter not as harsh. 

Month work that needed to be done weather the farmer expected (wanted)

mending and making tools, repairing fences showers, snow

carting manure and marl
showers, snow

plowing and spreading manure dry, no severe frosts

spring sowing of seeds, harrowing showers and sunshine

digging ditches, first plowing of fallow fields showers and sunshine

hay making, second plowing of fallow field, sheep-shearing dry weather

hay making, sheep-shearing, weeding of crops dry early, showers later

cereal harvesting, threshing warm, dry weather

legumes harvesting and threshing, plowing and pruning fruit trees showers

last plowing of the year dry, no severe frosts

collecting acorns showers,snow and sunshine

mending and making tools, killing animals showers, show and sunshine

In the above list you can see the list of the agricultural activities and the weather that the farmer expected, wanted. But we all know that the weather we expect and want is not always the weather that we get. Agriculture is extremely sensitive to climatic oscillations. Particularly sensitive to weather changes is grain farming. Grain farming is a long drawn out process which spans over four months from plowing to threshing. During that time the weather can turn bad and the late frost can kill the seeds, the heavy rain or hail in late summer can break the stalks, the drought during the growing season can burn the plants and the crops will be ruined. This means that even if you are able to determine the day of the year and even if you know what needs to be done and when it needs to be done, and even if you do it all right, you are still not guaranteed the bountiful harvest.

If you are a cereal farmer, and if your life depends on grain yield, and if grain yield in turn depends on the weather, and if the weather depends on the Sun, then sun very quickly becomes your God, the God of weather, the God of grain.

In Serbian tradition, Sun is called the "Višnji Bog", the High God, and is perceived as a living being. Sun is born every year in the winter on the winter solstice day. He then grows into a young man Jarilo on the 6th of May. The 6th of May is the day of the strongest vegetative, reproductive power of the sun. This day marks the middle of the growing season. This day also marks the beginning of the summer. Sun then becomes the powerful ruler Vid on the day of the summer solstice, the 21st of June the longest day of the year. This is the end of the growing season and the beginning of the ripening season. The sun then becomes the old man and terrible warrior Perun on the 2nd of August the hottest day of the year. This day marks the end of the summer, the beginning of autumn and the beginning of the harvest season.

These three gods are just different ages, faces of one god, the Sun god, the god of weather, the god of Grain, Dabog, the God that gives. He has three faces (Jarilo, Svarog (fire), Svetovid (light), Perun (thunder)) and this is why he is also Triglav, Trojan, Trinity, Trimurti. 

In his most powerful incarnation, at the end of summer and beginning of autumn, in the middle of the light part of the year, at the beginning of the harvest season, he is becomes the Thundering Sun Ilios, Hromi Daba, Crom Dubh, Grom Div, the Thunder Giant. This thunder giant has many names in many cultures. He is Slavic Perun and Celtic Lugh, Breton luc'h and Cornish lughes, Serbian Luč meaning spark, lightning. The proof that the thunder good represents the cumulative power of the sun, that he is Triglav, Trojan, can be seen from the representations of the Celtic god Lugh. He is represented as three headed, Triglav:

And from the Irish tradition and the fact that Lughnasad and Domhnach Crom Dubh are one and the same, we can conclude that Lugh and Crom Dubh are also one and the same. Lugh is the lightning face of the Thundering Sun, Thunder Giant, Grom Div, Crom Dubh

It is to this Three Headed Thunder Giant that the final, the most important prayer is uttered on the threshing floor just before the harvest, on the first (second) of August, Lughnasad, Domhnach Crom Dubh

"Please god give us enough grain so that we can survive through the winter".

Then the grain is harvested and threshing starts. The threshing is the moment when the months of hard work and fervent pray are finally supposed to turn into food. Threshing time is the moment when the people will find out whether they will feast or whether they will starve through the winter. The threshing time is also the time of truth. The threshing floor is the place where every year the relationship between the farmers and their God of Grain is tested. If the harvest was bountiful, the Thunder Giant, the God of Weather and the God of Grain did hear the prayers and did receive the sacrifices and was pleased with both and that is why the threshing floor is full of grain. But if the threshing floor is empty, that means that the Thunder Giant, the God of Weather and the God of Grain is angry and displeased and that more prayers and more sacrifices are needed to please him, and maybe next year he will give good weather and the threshing floor will be full of grain. 

The harsher the climate is the and more unpredictable and volatile the weather is, the more and more uncertain the outcome of the harvest becomes and more and more likely are people to starve. This makes people more and more dependent on the apparent "will of the weather god" and more and more desperate. In Europe this eventually lead to the creation of the God of Weather, the God of Grain. And to the conversion of a threshing floors into temples of Grom Div, Crom Dubh, Hromi Daba.

The largest stone in the Grange stone circle is known as Rannach Cruim Duibh which suggests that the circle was associated with the festival of Domhnach Crom Dubh, Lughnassa. Cruim Duibh, Crom Dubh is according to the Irish annals credited with bringing grain to Ireland. The stone is estimated to weigh more than 40 tons and was transported over a distance of three miles. It is very significant that the Crom Dubh stone is cuboid, an obelisk with orthogonal sides. I will talk about that more in one of my next posts.

Next to the massive Crom Dubh stone is a smaller stack of stones said to represent the grain child. I would suggest that the small stack of stones represents a stack of breads like this one:

Bread is the grain child. It is bread that Crom Dubh brought with him. It is bread that people are praying for. It is bread that will be made from the grain threshed on this holy ground, the threshing floor. This is why a representation of a stack of breads was placed next to the Crom Dubh stone.

Here I have to ask a question: What does "Rannach Cruim Duibh" actually mean? The Irish dictionary says that the word "rannach" means apportioning, sharing; open-handed, departmental. Put together with Cruim Duibh, this name is both ungrammatical and 
meaningless. But what if these are just the names for the small stack of stones representing breads and for the big stone representing Crom Dubh? The word "gráinne" in Irish means corn, grain. In Serbian word for food is "hrana" but it is often pronounced as "rana". I believe that the word was originally "grana" and that it comes from times of the first neolithic farmers and which is based on the ancient root "gra" meaning something small round. Word gra is still used in Serbian as a word for legume seeds. I will talk about this in detail in one of my next posts. So "Rannach Cruim Duibh" should really be "Rannach, Hrana, Grana", "Cruim Duibh" meaning "grain, food", "grom div, god". 

Professor Ó Ríordáin postulated that the circle dated from the Late Neolithic and that it was built c. 2,200 B.C. Archaeologist Helen Roche, however, has suggested that the Grange stone circle was constructed in the Late Bronze Age (c. 1000 BCE) on a site that may have been sacred for thousands of years.

I believe that the building date proposed by Seán P. Ó Ríordáin (2200 bc) is much closer to the actual building date. I believe that the Grange circle was contemporary with the Newgrange and that was certainly built between 3200 bc and 2200 bc. However, additions and changes were probably made in the following millenniums as the worship of Crom Dubh persisted in Ireland up until the arrival of Christianity. 

The worship of Crom Dubh or Crom Cruiach, the old Irish god of agriculture, is most closely associated with Tigernmas, sometimes called Tiernmas, the Irish high king who is said to have perished while worshiping this god. Tigernmas is sometimes referred to as the “culture king”, because it is said that he was the one who brought aspects of civilisation to Ireland including the cereal farming, smithing of gold and silver, the dyeing of fabrics, and the making of music and art.

Grain farming arrived in Ireland in the fourth or third millennium bc. The Grange circle, the temple of Crom Dubh, the god of grain was built in the third millennium bc. Metallurgy was brought to Ireland in the third millennium bc. 

There is a well established cultural distribution path Balkans - South Baltic (Pomorje, Pomerania) - Ireland which has been in operation since at least fifth millennium bc. I wrote about this in my posts about henges and in my post about tochars.  

In the 6th millennium bc, in Serbia, mixed together we find highly developed metallurgical Vinča culture and highly developed grain farming Blagotin culture. These two cultures had to be in contact with each other. Vinca houses had grinding stones and bread baking ovens. Is it possible that from the 6th millennium bc, metallurgy and grain farming spread together into Europe from Serbia? And if so did they reach Ireland together, brought by the same people, Fomorians, people from Pomorje, the land by the sea, South Baltic, known today as Pomerania?

If this is the case, then Tigernmas lived in the 3rd or 4th millennium bc. Is it possible that the Irish oral tradition has preserved records of events that happened 5000, 6000 years ago? Is it possible that metallurgy arrived in Ireland earlier than we think, at the same time when grain farming arrived? Or did grain farming arrive in Ireland later than we think, at the same time with metallurgy? Is Crom Dubh 5000 thousand years old deity and is Crom Dubh, Hromi Daba, Grom Div the oldest European God who is still celebrated in Ireland and Serbia? Did Grom Div arrive to Ireland from the Balkans with the first metallurgists to reach Ireland? Did he then in Ireland turn into Crom Dubh over the following milleniums as the meaning of the name was lost? And did he then arrive back to the Balkans with Celts where he finally became Hromi Daba?

Appart from the biggest stone in the circle being called Cruim Duibh, we have another clue that the Grange circle functioned as a temple of Crom Dubh. The Grange circle has a ceremonial entrance. 

This ceremonial entrance is lined with stones in the same way as the Grange circle itself. The very entrance of the circle is marked with two large stones. This great pic is taken from article about Grange circle. 

This ceremonial entrance is aligned with the sunrise on the first or second of August, the Day of Crom Dubh, Lughnassa, the day of Perun, Thundering sun Ilios.This following picture gives you the azimuth of the sun path on the first of August 2014. My drawing is not precise so i could be one day off on either side. You can see that the ceremonial entrance looks directly at the sunrise. 

The entrance was made in such a way that on the day of Crom Dubh, Hromi Daba, Grom Div, The Thundering Sun, both the people and the God would enter the threshing floor together so that people can pray in the presence of the God and offer him their sacrifices. 

Like bulls. During excavations no structures were found but two hearths; a few un-burnt human bones, some animal bones (mainly cattle), some bronze materials and numerous Neolithic pottery pieces were discovered.

According to an Irish dinsenchas ("place-lore") poem in the 12th century Book of Leinster, Crom Dubh's, Crom Cruach's cult image, consisting of a gold figure surrounded by twelve stone figures, stood on Magh Slécht ("the plain of prostration") in County Cavan. In the 9th century Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick the deity is called Cenn Cruach, and his cult image consists of a central figure covered with gold and silver, surrounded by twelve bronze figures. Jocelin's 12th century Life and Acts of St. Patrick tells much the same story. Here the god is called Cenncroithi, interpreted as "the head of all gods". 

In the Grange circle, twelve large stones have been placed at intervals around the stone ring, each standing directly opposite one of the other 'axial' stones. This corresponds to the 12 lunar months of the solar year. Are these the 12 stones which eventually became 12 stone idols from the Irish legends? In central Serbia, on the first day of threshing, the first sheaf of grain is stuck on top of the stožer, the central pole of the threshing floor, and it stays there until the end of threshing. As I said in my post about threshing floors, I believe that originally the god of grain lived in the stožer, the central pole of the threshing floor. I believe that the cuboid obelisk representation of Crom Dubh is a later development. The sheaf of wheat stuck on top of the stožer central pole is Crom Dubh carrying a sheaf of grain, which eventually became the golden idol of Crom Cruach from the Irish legends. Cruach means a sheaf, a stack of corn, a heap of grain. In Serbian "kruh" mean heap of grain, bread.

Is the Grange circle the temple of Crom Dubh (Cruach) that the Irish annals talk about? Or Is Grange circle just one of many similar holy threshing floors strewn across pre-Christian Ireland?

Grange circle was a threshing floor which was at the same time also a solar observatory and a temple dedicated to Crom Dubh. Crom Dubh was the main god of pre-Christian Ireland and it is not a surprise to find many Grange place names around Ireland. Here is the map showing the distribution of place names with the root gráinsí, gráinsigh, gráinseach, Ghráinseach in Ireland:

What does the word grange mean and where does it come from? Official etymology says that the word grange comes from Irish gráinsí, gráinsigh, gráinseach, Ghráinseach. It is said that it means "granary, monastic farm"). Is there a reason why "grange" means a monastic farm and just a farm? Is it possible that many Monasteries were built on the grounds of old Granges, holy threshing floors dedicated to Crom Dubh, the god of grain? I believe that the word "gráinseach" originally meant threshing floor.  Gráinne in Irish means corn, grain. In my post about the people of the blade i talked about the ancient "sk, sek" root meaning to cut. In Irish it survived as a small cluster represented with the word "scean" (pronounced shkian) means knife but also to crack, split, sever. Is it possible that "gráinseach" is "gran" + "sek" = grain + cut = harvest, the place where cut grain was brought to be threshed, threshing floor, granary?

In the end, the dual use of Granges as both threshing floors and solar observatories, and the link between the Sun and Granin is embedded in the Irish language. In Irish "grian"  means sun and "gráinne" means corn, grain. But I will talk about that in my next Post. Until then stay happy.