Exploring Our Gods & Goddesses: Sinthgunt [Redux]

Our only surviving reference to the Goddess Sinthgunt comes from the Old High German Merseburg Incantation (also known as the “Horse Cure Charm”), which dates to around the 9th or 10th Century.

sinthgunt_small
Not for Commercial Use 

 

In the source, She is described as being a sister to the Goddess Sunna, who is the personification of the Sun. Within the context of the story, Baldr’s horse has been injured, and so the Gods and Goddesses present (Odin, Frig, Fulla, Sunna, & Sinthgunt) render healing aid to the horse. Literally the story tells us only 2 things about her:

  1. She is the sister to Sunna
  2. She has affinity with healing

The only other thing we know about Her, is Her name. And so explorations into the etymology of Her name have been explored by scholars. Using the spelling of Sinthgunt, one scholar finds the etymology renders as “the night-walking one” and thus She may be meant to be the Moon. However, we know that elsewhere in Northern Tradition cosmology, the Moon is a masculine force embodied by the God Mani. However, by switching two letters in the spelling of Her name, so that it now reads as Sinhtgunt, the proposed etymology renders now as “heavenly body, star”. Interestingly enough in the original source manuscript for this charm, Her name is spelled in this later way. However, when it comes to the spellings of names, I always recommend caution. Spelling conventions at the time when this text was penned, was not yet formalized. In texts throughout Europe, spelling could vary widely for the same word within even the same body of text. 

In the Poetic Edda, specifically within the Volupsa it states:

Sól það né vissi
hvar hún sali átti,
stjörnur það né vissu
hvar þær staði áttu,
máni það né vissi
hvað hann megins átti.

[The sun knew not
where she had her hall,
the stars knew not where they had a stead,
the moon knew not
what power he possessed.

 

Here we see Sol/Sunna, Mani, and the “Stars” being written about by means of personification, and therefore most likely deification as well. This to me, strengthens the concept of this being a trio of siblings. Cosmologically, Sunna and Mani’s father, and most likely Sinthgunt’s as well, is Mundilfari, the time turner. His name, literally is how we count time, and it makes sense that his children would be the references we use to count time. Today we still mark time by the progress of the sun, the moon, and the stars. Although due to light pollution, most of us don’t notice the stars as much as we once did.

Personally, I believe Her to be sister to both Sunna and Mani, and that She is personified by the Stars, perhaps specifically Polaris, as that star is always visible in the Northern Hemisphere. However, very little information has survived about the pre-Christian beliefs and names tied to the Stars from Northern Tradition cultures. Most of what has survived, is unclear as to what specific star or stars it may reference.

Still, while we have but a mere reference to Her, that doesn’t prevent us from trying to learn more. She is a Goddess whom I worship, I venerate Her, and I give offerings to Her.

 

A prayer card featuring Sinthgunt is available within the “House of Mundilfari” prayer card set at Wyrd Curiosities on Etsy. All cards come from Galina Krasskova‘s passion for the arts and polytheistic devotion, to create the Prayer Card Project. Since so much religious iconography has been destroyed, or defaced in the course of human history, she is actively making new religious prayers and iconography available to the various modern polytheistic communities to support those who are building their religious communities, building their devotional practices, and hungering for art that represents their religious faith. All while also supporting the artists within these burgeoning communities.

 

Advertisements

🐍🐉🐍 The Snakes in the Grass – Saint Patrick, the Pagans, & the God Crom Cruach 🐍🐉🐍

I do not celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, which is a day of holy obligation for Catholics in Ireland (as well as revered by a few other Christian denominations). Why would I, a heathen, celebrate a 5th Century Saint whose mission in life was to turn pagans from their Gods and ancestral ways? If he lived today he’d be trying to convert me away from the Gods of my life as well.

For those with Irish ancestry who take this day to celebrate their ancestry, that is all to the good. But remember there is a difference between a drunken revelry of green beer, and the celebration of a vast rich culture. There is a difference in remembering your ancestors and laying out offerings, telling their stories, and hailing their names versus urinating on the sidewalk because you’re behaving as a drunken fool.

Of course, I’ve always found it ironic that a man who was born in Roman Britain, has become the representative icon for Ireland.

While there are many stories about Saint Patrick, the tale of him driving out the snakes is the most wide known. Of course it’s also clearly historically impossible as snakes haven’t inhabited Ireland since the last Ice Age concluded more than 10,000 years ago, which is before Patrick was even born. It’s a bit ridiculous to think he drove out animals that weren’t even there. But not only did this story appear very late (centuries after his death), there’s also a belief in some corners that the story was allegorical, and the snakes were symbolical representations for the ancient pagans/polytheists.

Continue reading “🐍🐉🐍 The Snakes in the Grass – Saint Patrick, the Pagans, & the God Crom Cruach 🐍🐉🐍”

🐣 Ostara: The Goddess & The High Holy Tide 🐣

For those of us in the Northern Tradition (which encompasses the peoples with a common worship to Odin), the high holy tide of Ostara is upon us. Some are gearing up to celebrate during the astronomical spring equinox (which varies slightly but always occurs between March 19-21), some may wait for the signs of spring in their local area, and others may postpone their celebrations so that they coincide more with the observed Christian date of Easter instead, which for 2019 occurs on April 21th. The later allows heathen children to be able to participate in more mainstream activities such as egg hunts with their peers at school and at community parks.

Ostara-nichol_skaggs
Ostara by Nichol Skaggs (nicholskaggs.com)

Continue reading “🐣 Ostara: The Goddess & The High Holy Tide 🐣”

🕯️ Glad Lussinatta! 🕯️

For me Yule personally begins in another week, however if we look to the various holiday traditions from Krampus and Saint Nicholas, to today’s celebration of Saint Lucia Night, we see the pre-Christian remnants scattered across all of December. But I wanted to acknowledge Lussi on Her feast day today in Scandinavia.

Some scholars have posited that the Christianized Saint Lucia, may very well have pagan origins related to the figure of Lussi. We see Lussi who led her Wild-Hunt like horde called the Lussiferda. (Similar to other figures in the Northern Tradition: Perchta & the Perchten, which in turn probably connects to the similar Nicholas (most likely from Odinic origins) and the Krampus). On Lussinatta, folk traditions have Lussi coming down chimneys to steal misbehaving children.

The practice of Lussevaka – to stay awake through Lussinatt to guard oneself and the household against evil, not only fits symbolically well with a solstice celebration of longest night, but also brings to mind the description from Bede that Mother’s Night was observed for the entire night as well. While there’s a few different Christian origin stories for Lucia, or Saint Lucy, one of them has her bringing light to persecuted Christians hiding in the catacombs surrounded by the dead with nothing but a lit wreath to guide her. Symbolically, traversing the dark and realm of the dead with light, seems to fit with pre-Christian symbolism.

In modern times Saint Lucia’s Day is observed on December 13th, 12 days before Christmas. So, this very much syncs as a parallel to yule starting with Mother’s Night for the 12 days of the modern yuletide, even though the dates between modern pagan and Christian observances vary. Prior to the adoption of the modern Gregorian Calendar, her feast day in the Julian calendar fell on the Winter’s Solstice.

On a side note, the traditional depiction of Saint Lucia is of a woman clad in white. We know this is sacred iconography that is referenced time and again in Northern Tradition areas. We see this mentioned in Tacitus’ Germania that priest or priestesses wore white, we also see in the folk traditions mentioned by Grimm that women clad in white appeared at dawn for Ostara/Eostre.

Lussesang: a song for Lussinatta

While I don’t agree with the description saying this is for Freya (and thus assuming that Lussi is an aspect of Freya), the lyrics only mention Lussi and Alfrodul (an attested name for Sunna) and the words are perfect tonight. If you visit this on youtube, you can find the lyrics in Swedish and English if you expand the description.

The Holy Tides – Charming of the Plough / Disting

For many pagans, this is the time of year where they honor and celebrate Imbolc one of the pagan holidays that comprise the Wheel of the Year. For those of us in the Northern Tradition however, we have our only celebrations known as holy tides (from the Old Norse hátíðir) that we may currently be celebrating instead: Charming of the Plough or Disting.

fb_img_1451891713765.jpg
Gefjon Fountain in Copenhagen, Denmark

Continue reading “The Holy Tides – Charming of the Plough / Disting”

Exploring Our Gods and Goddesses – Sigyn

I’ve been a bit distracted, I meant to re-share this several days ago in celebration of the Sigyn Agon running over at Gangleri’s Grove. Click on the link for a thorough exploration into the Goddess Sigyn, from what we know about here from lore and the archaeological record, spotlighting various artistic depictions of Her, correcting common misperceptions that arise in connection with Her, and poetry in Her honor. You can read it in full here: Exploring Our Gods and Goddesses – Sigyn

The Holy Tides – Yule, its traditions, and religious observances

Just as our pagan cousins celebrate the eight major sabbats that comprise the Wheel of the Year, for those of us in the Northern Tradition we too have somewhat similar key celebrations that we call holy tides (from the Old Norsehátíðir). Some of these celebrations are more significant and special than others, and these especially important holy-days are known as high holy tides: such as Ostara, Winter Nights, and Yule which is now upon us.

fb_img_1449662910319.jpg

 

Continue reading “The Holy Tides – Yule, its traditions, and religious observances”

Exploring Our Gods & Goddesses: Sinthgunt

Our only surviving reference to the Goddess Sinthgunt comes from the Old High German Merseburg Incantation (also known as the “Horse Cure Charm”), which dates to around the 9th or 10th Century.

Wodan_heilt_Balders_Pferd_by_Emil_Doepler
“Wodan Heals Balder’s Horse” (1905) by Emil Doepler.

Continue reading “Exploring Our Gods & Goddesses: Sinthgunt”

Honoring Our Mothers [Redux]

Sometimes the perception other pagans and polytheists have of the Northern Tradition is that we are focused on a patriarchal system due to the overwhelming popularity of Gods like Odin and Thor, but the truth is simply that all powers, or Regin, were respected and honored, including those mothering and protective spirits or wights known as the Disir.

When looking up the etymology and usage of the word wight, I discovered it was used not just to describe land wights, but also for ancestral spirits, and the Gods and Goddesses, and even the genius loci. So it was an umbrella term used to describe anything that was numinous, or not of this world and therefore not wholy human.

I think in the early foundations of the religious practices, there wasn’t a great deal of distinction made between the types, anything that was supernatural fit as they all held sacred roles we mortals should respect and there were regional variances and regional preferences for each geo-socio-politico community. Therefore it is my belief that overtime more of a tiered, hierarchical structure emerged in human civilization, and thus we begin to see more of a separation of ‘ranks and tiers’ between Gods, the ancestors, the land wights, etc.

In Guðrúnarkviða, the text calls the valkyries “Odin’s Disir”, and we also see in Reginsmal and Krakumal more connections to the valkyries. We see in another text, Atlamál, that they are specifically referred to as being dead women. 

In Hamðismál and Grimnismal the disir appear to be synonymous with the Norns. All throughout the lands of ancient Germania the archaelogical record is full of more than 1000 found votive stones and altars erected to the Matronae (The Mothers), and within that vast number we find groupings of stones in specific regions to specific deities, such as those honoring the Austriahenae. Suggesting, and to my mind proving, that there existed genius loci or a region specific variety too. But as the term Matronae/Mothers alone suggests, they also have associations with fertility as well.

As such, Goddesses, Norns, valkyries, genius loci, as well as female ancestors comprise the Disir, or Idis. While that can seem a bit overwhelming to wrap your mind around, at the end of the day the Disir embody the protective and beneficial female spirits that look after individuals, their families, and the tribe or community.

The Disir or mothers were so revered that they had their own celebrations within the Northern Tradition umbrella, with regional variance. The Anglo-Saxons had Modraniht (Mother’s Night) during December, the Swedes had Disting in February, yet texts like Víga-Glúms and
Hervavar show celebrations in the Autumn instead.

In modern times Northern Tradition polytheists will also use Mother’s Day as another opportunity to honor the Disir.

So on this Mother’s Day…

Let us honor our Mothers, who through joy and suffering endured so that their children, and their children’s children might not just survive, but thrive.

I call to our mothers, the light and the life bringers who have guided us from darkness onto the paths our ancestors have traveled, and now the paths we walk down.

All-mother Frigga I hail thee, and I thank thee. For the immeasurable blessings, your guidance and your wisdom. You see all things, even if I may not know them. May your counsel follow me into the year ahead and be the compass from which I navigate.

May the blessings of the Disir be upon you all.

In Honor of Nerthus

Galina Krasskova is holding an Agon in April for Nerthus – http://wp.me/p59Y9v-1UZ

Our only written accounts to this Goddess comes to us from Tacitus’ Germania:

There is a sacred grove on an island in the Ocean, in which there is a consecrated chariot, draped with cloth, where the priest alone may touch. He perceives the presence of the goddess in the innermost shrine and with great reverence escorts her in her chariot, which is drawn by female cattle. There are days of rejoicing then and the countryside celebrates the festival, wherever she designs to visit and to accept hospitality. No one goes to war, no one takes up arms, all objects of iron are locked away, then and only then do they experience peace and quiet, only then do they prize them, until the goddess has had her fill of human society and the priest brings her back to her temple.

There is a theory that connects Gefjon to Nerthus, one of the bits of interest in this theory is that the medieval place name for the modern-day city of Naerum in Denmark was Niartharum, which etymologically may connect to Nerthus’ name.

Much is made of Her as a fertility Goddess, while this is true, I also see her as a Goddess associated with fresh waters (rivers, lakes, ponds) and how that water is necessary for the fields. I also personally see Njord as a God of waters at the boundaries (beaches, marshlands, etc),  and Ran/ Aegir more the ocean depths.

A Prayer to Nerthus

We hail the generous earth.
Ripe lie your sustaining fields;
swollen with the promise
of blessings yet reaped.

We hail you Nerthus,
And we thank you
For the plenty you provide
For the gifts you bestow.
May we thrive in health
And fortitude for life.

So we hail!

A little over a year ago I sponsored a prayer card (available for purchase) to this Goddess, with art from Grace Palmer.

Nerthus by Grace Palmer