Saturday 11 May 2019

Bird torcs

Very interesting La Tène bronze torcs from Marne region of France. 

The first two are decorated with two birds, most likely ducks, holding a disc. Solar disc? 

Tthe third one is again decorated with birds (ducks?). And triskele (trinity) between them?  

The fourth one is decorated with two birds holding a tree of life?

What is the meaning of these decorations?

Arrival and departure of the migratory birds demarcate the "sunny" part of the year in Europe. Which is also the part of the year when plants grow and give fruit...

This is reflected in Slavic languages. The word for summer "leto" is derived from the word for flight "let" precisely because the summer, the sunny part of the year is demarcated by the arrival and departure of migratory birds. You can read more about in my post "Leto".

Is this what the above torcs are symbolically depicting?

Friday 10 May 2019

Day star

In Serbian mythology Venus is known as Danica (Day star). She is the daughter of the sun god, known as Vid, Svetovid but also as Dabog. I wrote about Svetovid in my post "The Horseman". Every morning under the name of Zornjača (Morning star) she opens the eastern gate of Sun's palace to let his chariots out. And every evening under the name of Večernjača (Evening star) she opens the western gate of Sun's palace to let his chariots in.

Where is this Sun's palace?

Interestingly Dabog is also the god of the Dead to whom all the Ancestor cult ceremonies are dedicated. Why?

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Fire breathing goblin

Aillen or Áillen is a legendary being from Irish mythology. He played the harp and was known to sing beautiful songs. He was also called "the burner", because of his "fiery breath". He was a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann. 

Here is the story about Aillén Mac Midgna – The Fire Breathing Goblin, which was described in the Fenian Cycle of Irish Mythology under The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn.

Aillén Mac Midgna was a fire breathing goblin from the other world, Mag Mell. for 23 years Aillén brought terror to Ireland’s most sacred location, the hill of Tara, the seat of Ireland’s High King.

Each year, on the eve of Samhain, Aillén would arrive at Tara and play the Irish harp with such enthusiasm causing everyone in the immediate area to fall asleep under his spell.

Once Aillén had cast all of the kings guards asleep he would use his fiery breath to set fire to the great halls of Tara with his fire breathing, leaving nothing but burning cinders behind. When done Aillén would return to his fairy mound at sídh Finnachaid leaving the people to rebuild the great halls.

Nobody could kill the fire breathing goblin because as soon as anyone got close to him they fell asleep under his spell which is why he was able to continue year after year. That is, until the Irish hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill learned about the disastrous deeds of Aillén.

A few months after Fionn succeeded in becoming a Fian warrior and chieftain of Clan Baiscne he was told of the fire breathing goblin who was causing chaos at the hill of Tara every Samhain. As Fionn had all the knowledge in the world gained from the Salmon of Knowledge, he made a request to the High King. For leadership of the Fianna, a band of warriors, he would kill Aillén Mac Midgna the fire breathing goblin. With all the warriors in Ireland unable to stop Aillén the burner the Irish King agreed to Fionn’s request.

Like everyone else, Fionn was not immune to the musical spell from Aillén so he needed a way to avoid falling victim to the goblins magic but how? 

Another Irish warrior by the name of Fiacha had a poisoned spear but he lacked the knowledge on how to use it. Fionn mac Cumhaill on the other hand knew exactly how to use it after all, he had all the knowledge in the world.

On Samhain’s Eve Fionn held the spear to his head and inhaled its magical fumes, making him immune to the musical spell  from Aillén’s harp. He lay in wait for Aillén to get closer and within reaching distance he stabbed him with the spear killing the goblin to everyone’s joy.

The King, true to his word, gave Fionn captaincy over the Fianna warriors. Its leader at the time, Goll Mac Morna who was Fionn’s enemy, stood down and swore loyalty to Fionn.

So what is this story actually about?

Well as I already explained in my post "Two crosses", in the Irish calendar the year was divided into the white and dark part, summer and winter. The white part of the year was the part dominated by the sun (Heat, Light, Yang, Male principal). The dark part of the year was the part dominated by the earth (Cold, Dark, Yin, Female principal). This division of the year described by the Celtic calendar is also perfectly described by the Yin-Yang symbol. I talked about it in my post "Yin and Yang". The white part of the year, the summer, started on Beltane and ended on Samhain. The dark part of the year started on Samhain and ended on Beltane. 

The fire of the sun is symbolised by a snake and a fire breathing dragon...I already talked about it in many of my posts, like "Apep", "Water bull", "St Austell font", "The sunny part of the year"... And interestingly, the fire breathing goblin gets killed on the day when the sun's dominance ends, when the sun's fire is finally extinguished and the winter starts...And the day when traditional in Ireland all the house fires were extinguished and rekindled again...

Is this a coincidence?

Sunday 5 May 2019

Northern Etruscans

The Pomeranian culture, was an Iron Age culture with origins in parts of the area south of the Baltic Sea, from the 7th c. to the 3rd c. BC, which eventually covered most of today's Poland

People of the Pomeranian culture made these amazing bronze collars.

These collars are commonly thought of being jewellery but it is possible that they were a type of a neck armour. These are depiction of warriors from Tiryns Peloponnese (c. 1500-1200 BC). Bronze statuettes of warrior from Sardinia Italy (c. 1900 BC). Both wearing ring neck amour.

This type of armour was found in Italy (c. 2000-1600 BC).

From Greek age of Bronze.

Pomeranian culture is also known as face urn culture. Reason for that is that they put ashes of the deceased in urns with sculpted faces, possibly resembling the faces of the deceased.

Now interestingly, at the same time, or a bit earlier (they first appear during the 8th centuries BC. ) in Italy, Etruscans also made urns with faces.

I love the more stylised design of the older versions of these Etruscan face urns, like these 4.

One of the most striking examples, to me anyway, is this one. It could have been made in 1930s...

At the same time when both people in Etruria and in South Baltic made face urns, the people in both places also made house urns.

The House Urns culture was an early Iron Age culture of the 7th century BC in central Germany, in the Region between Harz Mountains and the junction of river Saale to river Elbe. It was the western periphery of the bronze and Iron Age Lusatian culture.

At the same time (actually slightly earlier) in Italy, we find Villanova culture, (Early Etruscan culture) which also made house shaped urns

The most elaborate house urns made in Italy come from the Etruscan city of Vulci and date to the 9th century BC. They are made of bronze.

One of my favourite Etruscan house urns is this one, today kept in Vatican museum. Some people will find symbols adorning this urn interesting. I particularly like this one:

Etruscans loved amber, and amber comes from South Baltic. So the trade connection between the two places definitively existed during the time when these two urn traditions developed in both Italy and South Baltic.

Villanovans, early Etruscans, were master amber carvers

What is interesting is that both urn traditions are developed earlier and to the much higher level in Etruria. This points to the corresponding North European traditions being cultural exports from Etruria.

Cultural exports brought along the amber road? The shortest route directly connects these two cultural areas.

These cultural traits are not present along the whole length of the Amber Road. Does this indicate the presence of the Etruscan settlers in the South Baltic area? Maybe to control the amber trade?

Latest Etruscan genetic data shows that they were a very mixed population...But "...the finding of the Central European lineage G2a-L497 (7.1%) at considerable frequency would rather support a Northern European origin of Etruscans"...