Celtic & Norse

The Celtic and Norse peoples saw trees as wise spirit beings. They felt a great deal of reverence toward trees as ancestors who held sacred knowledge. Northern Europe was blanketed with dense forests, which were the key to a tribe’s survival.

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Stonehenge – Wiltshire, England.

8000 – 2500 BCE – Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in England. Evidence suggests that Pine Trees were once erected as poles at this site as early as 8500 BCE. Stonehenge was built to align with the Equinoxes and Solstices as an astronomical structure and a living solar calendar. There are other earthworks in the area that show this was an active gathering place in Neolithic England. It was an early burial site for cremations and artifacts from Germany, France and possibly Turkey. The remains of the “Amesbury Archer,” show that he traveled from the Alps to Stonehenge around 2400 BCE.

Goseck Henge – Photo by: Ralf Boutragel

4900 BCE – Goseck, Germany – The Goseck Henge is currently the oldest official ‘Solar observatory’ in the world. On the winter solstice, the sun can be seen to rise and set through the Southern gates. The Goseck enclosure and hundreds of similar wooden circular henges, rings or rondels were built throughout Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic during a 200-year period between 4900-4600 BCE. They all share the same features of a narrow circular ditch surrounding a circular wooden wall, with a few large gates equally spaced around the outer edge.

The Nebra Sky disc was discovered near Goseck in the wooded region of Nebra and is considered to be the oldest concrete representation of the cosmos. The disc is decorated with gold leaf symbols that represent the sun, moon and stars. A cluster of seven dots has been interpreted as the Pleiades constellation as it appeared 3,600 years ago, almost 2,000 years after the Goseck Circle. The two opposing arcs, which run along the rim of the Nebra Sky Disc, are 82.5 degrees long and mark the sun’s positions at sunrise and sunset. The lowest points of the two arcs are 97.5 degrees apart, signifying sunrise and sunset on the winter solstice in central Germany at the time.

69-96 AD – Tacitus, Roman historian wrote about the Druids in his book Germania – he named this region that was east of the Rhine (Germania) and its people (Germans.) Today this area encompasses Germany, Northern France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Austria and Alsace. Excerpts from the Germania: “The Germans, however, do not consider it consistent with the grandeur of celestial beings to confine the gods within walls, or to liken them to the form of any human countenance. They consecrate woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to the abstraction which they see only in spiritual worship.” 

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Spirit of Old – Ogham divination sticks.

“Divination – A little bough is lopped off a fruit-bearing tree, and cut into small pieces; these are distinguished by certain marks, and thrown carelessly and at random over a white garment.” “In their funerals there is no pomp; they simply observe the custom of burning the bodies of illustrious men with certain kinds of wood.” 

The Druid’s Grove, Norbury Park: Ancient Yew Trees by Thomas Allom 1804-1872

“In their ancient songs, their only way of remembering or recording the past, they celebrate an earth-born god, Tvisco, and his son Mannus, as the origin of their race, as their founders. To Mannus they assign three sons, from whose names, they say, the coast tribes are called Ingævones; those of the interior, Herminones; all the rest, Istævones.”

100 – 400 AD – The Elder Futhark was the first runic writing system developed and used by the Germanic people. Each rune was a pictographic symbol of some cosmic principle. The word “rune” (from Proto-Germanic *runo) means both “letter” and “secret” or “mystery.”

Maypoles are a Germanic tradition used for May Day as a celebration of spring. They are a rememberance of the wooden pillars of Irminsul.

Celtic Solar Calendar Cross

The Celtic Sun Cross tracks the eight seasons of the year and is also in alignment with the directions of the compass. Most of the old Celtic “Holy Days” were incorporated into Christian tradition.

Fall Equinox – Sept 22 – Death of the year, harvest.

Samhain – Oct 31 – Summers end. (All Saints Days or Hallowmass) Popular Halloween.

Winter Solstice – Dec 21 – Birth of the sun. (The Solstice was originally celebrated on Dec 25th, it was also identified as Jesus’s birthday as the “birth of the son” – until the Gregorian calendar modified the Solstice to Dec. 21)

Imbolc – Feb 2 –  Mid-winter and the stirring of Spring. Festival of Brigid. (Christian celebration of Candlemas)

Spring Equinox – March 20 – Birth – Festival of Eostre (Resurrection Sunday was renamed Easter). Easter incorporated Celtic symbols such as Easter Eggs and Rabbits.

Beltane – May 1 –  Mid-spring – planting and fertility – May Day.

Summer Solstice – June 21 –  Life

Lammas – Aug 2 – Mid-summer – First Harvest

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The Days of the week are named for Celtic/Norse Gods. When the Roman Calendar was translated they paired Celtic/Norse Gods with Roman Gods associated with the planets and the names of the previously related Greek Gods.

Sunday – Sun’s Day (Sun) – Named for the Germanic Sun Goddess Sunna and the Roman day of Sol Invictus. Other Sun Gods are Ra (Egyptian), Mithras (Roman/Persian/Hindu). The Sun rises in the East, the Germanic Goddess Eostre is the Spring Goddess of the East.

Monday – Moon’s Day (Moon) – Named for the Germanic Moon God Mani, Sunna’s Brother and the Roman day of Lunae or the Goddess Luna. Other names are Diana and Selene. The Egyptians saw the Moon as the seed that impregnated the Earth who then gave birth to a new Sun. Sin (Nanna) is the Arabian Moon God.

Tuesday – Tyr’s Day (Mars) – Named for Tyr the Norse God of War and Law and the Roman day of Mars. Mars is God of War. Tyr is the son of Odin also known as Woden/Irmin/Yggr.

Wednesday – Wodan’s Day (Mercury) – Named for the Norse God Wodan also known as Odin, Irmin and Yggr, the Father of all Gods and the Roman day of Mercury. Mercury leads souls between Heaven and Earth. Also known as Hermes (Greek), Thoth (Egyptian), Adonai (Chaldean), YWHW, El, Adonai (Judeo-Christian), Allah (Islam).

Thursday – Thor’s Day (Jupiter) – Named for the Norse God Thor, son of Odin and the Roman day of Jupiter. Jupiter is also the Greek God Zeus, son of Cronus. Zeus and Thor are both seen as protector Gods.

Friday – Freya’s Day (Venus) – Named for Freya the Germanic and Norse Goddess of love and Roman day of Venus. Venus is the evening star. The Mother God known as Astarte, Asherah, Aphrodite, Eostre, Minerva, Innana, Alluza, Athena, etc…

Saturday – Saturn’s Day (Saturn) – Named for the Roman day of Saturn or Cronus, Son of Uranus (Sky God) and Gaia (Earth Goddess).