Tuesday 24 January 2017

King John

Does anyone else think that this picture, allegedly showing king John on a stag hunt, looks strange, and may be hiding something in plain sight?

Well I checked and officially there is nothing special about this picture. It is simply a picture depictint the king who liked hunting chasing a stag day and night.

But maybe, just maybe, there is more in this image than meets the eye.

In Europe, St John's day, (Ivandan, Jovandan in Slavic languages) is Christianized Midsummer, Summer solstice celebration.

In Serbia Midsummer, Summer, Summer solstice day is also known as Vidovdan, day dedicated to Svetovid, sun god. The sacred animal of Svetovid is white horse. This is an image of the solar rider on a white horse is also found on (medieval???) standing stones from Bosnia.

I already wrote about this in my post "The horseman".

The same solar rider and horse are found on many Celtic coins:

The rider of the solar horse on Celtic coins often had solar head, a head with hair sticking out like sun rays. The rider was the sun, sun god. We can see this from the fact that the rider is sometimes the sun disc. John has the ray crown which actually represents the sun rays. The same crown was worn by Sun god in later Roman period of Sol Invictus worship and by emperors who worshiped the sun god. This is Aurelian in his radiate crown on the left with Sol Invictus on the right.

The crown that John is wearing is the same radiate crown, the solar crown.

The line between the light (red) and dark (blue) part of the picture can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly this  could be the line between the day and night, so the evening. Secondly this could be the line between the period of the year when the days are getting longer and the period of the year when the days are getting shorter, so the summer solstice. Regardless of which one of these two interpretations we take, it seems that the painter went through considerable pain to make it obvious that this change from light to darkness is important. King John is depicted right on the line between light and darkness and his clothes are also made of the same light and darkness. Meaning he is related to light, he is light. He is the sun. I believe that the line between the "light" and "dark" part of the picture is the summer solstice, because this fits with St John's day being the midsummer, summer solstice celebration.

King John is chasing the stag.

The same stag hunt scene is represented on many Bosnian medieval standing stones, like this one from Crljivica:

But just like King Arthur and his knights, who are unsuccessfully trying to catch the white stag, King John and the unknown deer hunter from Bosnia will never catch his stag...Why?

Cause stallion is the symbol of summer, while stag is the symbol of winter...Why?

Cause mating season of horses, marked by vicious stallion fights, starts in Apr/May, beginning of summer, and mating season of deer, marked by vicious stag fights, starts in Sep/Oct/Nov, beginning of winter...

This makes Stallion an animal calendar marker for summer, the light half of the year...and Stag an animal calendar marker for winter, the dark half of the year...

King John is also holding his hand in a very strange way, with the palm pointing up, towards the sky, towards the sun. The reason why palm up means salvation is because sun god and heaven is "up". The reason why palm down means damnation is because earth, devil and hell is "down".  And he is pointing up...Towards the sun on the St John's day, the day of the summer solstice. The day when the sun, the king of heaven is on his throne, the highest point the sun reaches in the sky on the northern hemisphere...

Lastly, the corners of the picture are very interesting. They all have the same symbol, "the hands of god" which represent the solar year, divided into four seasons around solstices and equinoxes with three months each...The god whose hands these are is the sun. 

This symbol is found on Serbian Christmas cakes. Christmas is the Christianized winter solstice celebration, the celebration of the birth of the new sun, new solar year. This is why there is so much solar imagery on Serbian Christmas cakes which are votive offerings to the sun god.

You can read more about these cakes and their ritual use in my post "Can you see me".

No what about the lanterns? Well officially they are not lanterns at all, but just "patterns"...In Serbia midsummer celebrations and customs have been during Christian time spread through the summer and associated with several summer saints. One of these is St Peter's day which used to be celebrated on the is celebrated on the 28th of June according to Julian calendar but is today celebrated on the 12th of July according to the Gregorian calendar. During St Peter's day celebrations in Serbia people light up special votive torches called "lile".

I believe that these were once lite up on the eve of the summer solstice.  In Southern Europe (including Angevin domains in southern France) this is the time when grain ripens and the time when fireflies light up the night.

South Slavic words for firefly are "svitac", "svitnjak", "svijetnjak", "svitaljka", "cvitnjak", "kris", "krijes", "kres", "kresnica"...These are also words used for fire and torches which are lit up on the shortest night of the year, as part of the Slavic summer solstice celebrations...

Are the "lantern" like "patterns" on the picture fireflies or votive toches? 

So that's it.


Well yes and yes. 

Overanalyzing of a pretty but otherwise meaningless painting? 

That is possible too.

We will never know :)


  1. Hi
    Your conclusions are correct.
    I wrote once before a similar motive
    Ideological message seems to be similar.
    Polish name of the firefly is Świetlik świętojański or simply Świetlik

    1. Great article. The only comment is that the stag is not running towards death, he is running toward winter, the time of death

    2. "Death", yes, You're right. My translation of the article Ivan Mužić perhaps was not very good.
      The cabinet belongs to the inventory of the church Św. Stanisława w Starym Bielsku. This is a specific place.
      The legend associated with this place says that the church was built on the site sacred grove, which was dedicated Perun. Supposedly under the altar be located a root of the holy oak.
      In the church on the rainbow wall is a huge painting, showing the fight of St. George with the Dragon.
      There are also original tracery, perhaps with the solar function.
      For this reason I think that "hunting" scene does not have only the secular character.

  2. Assuming this is the work of a monk, I would suspect that he was inspired by the Revelation 19:11.
    But in turn I would also think that the author of the Revelation was actually using the same old solar rider imagery in an Christological sense (Christ as the only true light); In contrast to the false solar rider the Roman emperor.

    Or,sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. ;-)

    1. I agree about the cigar. But, as you said, it is important to point the existence of these solar images and their meaning and origin. European Christianity is a very strange mixture of old and new. And don't forget that at the time when this picture was painted, Christians in Europe were still actively fighting the old beliefs and heresies...

  3. this "hands of god" also may be four person standing in a circle with a gesture of Orant.
    maybe it will interest you;
    Andrej Pleterski "Preplet 3 in 4, preloška Beli Križ in Triglavca ter Zbruški idol"