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Author Topic: Anglo-Saxon Paganism  (Read 41704 times)

dacecain

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Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2012, 04:53:21 PM »
Hello All,

This is my first post so please be gentle  :o

In Green’s Language and History in the early Germanic world, he discusses different aspects that may explain the Easter/paschal anomaly:

One is the Edict of Toleration, before which saw Christian translators trying to stay clear of heavily pagan-related words within their own vocab; one is obviously the need to borrow words to explain the concept; Rolling on from that is the later use of terms which had pagan meanings but could be appropriated, or expanded, by Christianity to explain the new meanings making them more accessible to the newly converted; one is the lateness of the conversion of England in relation to the Christian vocabulary; and a final thing may have been the new approach in England of converting from the top down.

The celebration of the Pagan Goddess, the name of which is possibly related to the dawn, during a time that is probably related to the Spring, or more likely the beginning of Summer (or even both:  the dawning of the summer!), most likely transferred well to the idea of the resurrection, rebirth, etc. Despite the use of the pagan term, the festival itself does appear to have been fully Christianised making any name change moot; although such things as the Easter bunny and Easter eggs would seem to be Spring-related, they easily mesh with the end of fasting for lent (everyone ate their eggs on pancake day and a tasty rabbit would have been a relief from all the fish!)

Of course, there may not be an Easter anomaly, there are countries that use terms different to both Easter and Paschal, suggesting that they too may have had relatable words within their vocabularies already that could be appropriated. Maybe the anomaly only looks like one because of the spread of the English!

Apologies if none of that makes sense - but it did in my head ;D

Best wishes,
Ashley

dacecain

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2012, 05:08:59 PM »
Take Nerthus for example Tacticus makes her out to be a Pan Germanic Goddess of extreme worship and she might be and may have been at that time and place but she is not a figure in AS Paganism,why who knows.

Unless Pollington's footnote in Elder Gods pp. 259 is correct; which has Herthus, if it was the correct reading of the 4 variants ...by metathesis, re-assignment of decelensional class and/or umlaut, the OE form HreÞe mentioned by Bede might result.

Although to be fair to Tacitus, he doesn't make her out to be Pan-germanic. At best, possibly Pan-Seubi but as the Anglii were one of the seven? tribes mentioned, some sign of her within AS should be expected.

Best wishes,
Ashley

Wulfric

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Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2012, 08:46:29 AM »
Hi Dacecain,

Welcome to the site and thanks for your contributions, may you make many more.

Horsa

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2012, 02:23:53 PM »
a tasty rabbit would have been a relief from all the fish!

Could the Easter bunny have anything to do with March hares?

dacecain

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2012, 10:54:01 PM »
a tasty rabbit would have been a relief from all the fish!

Could the Easter bunny have anything to do with March hares?

Hello Horsa,

I would have to say no, only because I do believe that the only reason Easter managed to retain its pagan name was due to its full Christianisation. Many pagans today do imagine a spring-like fertility hidden within the symbolism of Easter, but the problem from the Heathen perspective is that Bede clearly states that the Anglo-Saxons only had two seasons; winter and summer. Any such fertility symbolism would be better suited to the previous month, celebrating the end of winter and the awakening of the earth. I’m sticking with my rabbit omelette LOL

This rings bells for me of the frequent discussion about Yule. What then becomes interesting is when did the term Christmas take over from Yule and how did Easter keep it's pagan title rather than being converted to some form of "Pascha".
I use the same reasoning for yule as I do for Easter (which should worry all LOL). Yule is stated by Bede as being the midwinter solstice (or in his words something about the sun turning back). He also mentions Mothers’ Night, which he sets as the evening of the 24th December and the beginning of the year. Some people join the two, but I don’t see the link as clearly if only because by Bede’s time the solstice would be somewhere between the 19th and 22nd December, but not as late as the 24th/25th. I would put Mothers’ Night as occurring on the first full moon after the event. (I’m sure it is only a huge coincidence that according to NASA’s moon phase calculator a full moon occurred on the 24th December 725; the year in which Bede wrote his work: On the reckoning of Time!) For me, the Yule period simply became overshadowed by the festival within it: Christ Mass. As to the festival that signified yule, I believe that survived too, and was simply moved to the date where it still retained its pagan significance: 31st December – probably the biggest non-Christian festival there is - and helped by the fact that if mothers' night was already fixed to the full moon after yule then it was always a 'movable' celebration.

With Yule too though, like the bunnies at Easter, we see a pagan desire to ‘reclaim’ that which Christianity has taken, and many will speak of the 12 days of Yule, yet simple research will reveal that the 12 days of Christmas is a Christian creation, set in AD 567, at the second council of Tours, in an attempt to bridge the gap between the birth of Jesus on the 25th December in the west and the baptism (and birth) of Jesus on the 6th January in the east.

Again, apologies if I’ve rambled and thank you for the welcome, Wulfric :D

Best wishes,
Ashley

ubique

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2012, 05:20:02 PM »
Take Nerthus for example Tacticus makes her out to be a Pan Germanic Goddess of extreme worship and she might be and may have been at that time and place but she is not a figure in AS Paganism,why who knows.

Unless Pollington's footnote in Elder Gods pp. 259 is correct; which has Herthus, if it was the correct reading of the 4 variants ...by metathesis, re-assignment of decelensional class and/or umlaut, the OE form HreÞe mentioned by Bede might result.

Although to be fair to Tacitus, he doesn't make her out to be Pan-germanic. At best, possibly Pan-Seubi but as the Anglii were one of the seven? tribes mentioned, some sign of her within AS should be expected.

Best wishes,
Ashley

Right not sure im following but

I see where your comeing from but to be honest I dont really get to wrapped up in the spelling game ive seen it used for lots of ideas ranging from drawing exact parrels between NW eupropean paganism to Buddism and all sorts of mad ideas.

My feeling is even if Hreðe is linked directly to Nerthus they cannot be the same as they are not prt of the same landscape and the change in time and location led to Nerthus being leaft behind on the continent and Hreðe and Erce (who may have originally been a Brythonic diety) takeing the fore (with Eostre) as the godesses of the landscape and fertility.

This of course is my opinion.

Horsa

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2012, 06:10:20 PM »
a tasty rabbit would have been a relief from all the fish!

Could the Easter bunny have anything to do with March hares?

Hello Horsa,

I would have to say no, only because I do believe that the only reason Easter managed to retain its pagan name was due to its full Christianisation. Many pagans today do imagine a spring-like fertility hidden within the symbolism of Easter, but the problem from the Heathen perspective is that Bede clearly states that the Anglo-Saxons only had two seasons; winter and summer. Any such fertility symbolism would be better suited to the previous month, celebrating the end of winter and the awakening of the earth. I’m sticking with my rabbit omelette LOL

Yes, but the problem with that is you'd be waiting a long time for the rabbit - well into the Norman period. It's generally accepted that there were no rabbits in England during the anglo-saxon period. There's a rabbit thread on here somewhere.

You should substitute hare for rabbit while you're waiting for the Normans to arrive with their conies.

The other reason why I mention the hare is not as some sort of fertility symbol, but as a seasonal marker as in "look at the hares going at it. It'll be easter soon." A thousand years later we've got an easter bunny that delivers chocolate eggs with a bag of smarties inside them. Those things are more secular than they are pagan.

Edit: Yep - bunny thread
« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 06:19:52 PM by Horsa »

ubique

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #22 on: March 14, 2012, 06:25:58 PM »
I was under the impression that the symbology of this time of year was from Hares as opposed to rabbits who some may have belived layed eggs.

also Archeolgy suggests the Romans brought rabbits to Britian.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1487787/Romans-introduced-the-rabbit.html

Horsa

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #23 on: March 14, 2012, 08:43:04 PM »


also Archeolgy suggests the Romans brought rabbits to Britian.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1487787/Romans-introduced-the-rabbit.html

Check out the bunny thread. It's a discussion prompted by an article that suggests that rabbit burrows played a role in the fire of an anglo-saxon hall. We know that rabbits were in England at the time of the Roman occupation, but did they stay? That's why I said 'generally accepted'.

ubique

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #24 on: March 14, 2012, 08:51:56 PM »
I concur hence my point about Hares being associated with easter symbology and something to do with hares shareing the landscape with a ground laying bird.

dacecain

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2012, 09:48:01 PM »
My feeling is even if Hreðe is linked directly to Nerthus they cannot be the same as they are not prt of the same landscape and the change in time and location led to Nerthus being leaft behind on the continent and Hreðe and Erce (who may have originally been a Brythonic diety) takeing the fore (with Eostre) as the godesses of the landscape and fertility.

This of course is my opinion.

I think I understand what you mean, but feel differently, only in that I feel they would have brought her with them.  ;D

dacecain

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2012, 10:06:25 PM »
Yes, but the problem with that is you'd be waiting a long time for the rabbit - well into the Norman period. It's generally accepted that there were no rabbits in England during the anglo-saxon period. There's a rabbit thread on here somewhere.

You should substitute hare for rabbit while you're waiting for the Normans to arrive with their conies.

I hadn't thought of that (and thanks for the rabbit thread link btw), but that could strengthen the argument that the whole easter bunny thing didn't kick in until sometime after the norman invasion and had no bearing on AS Paganism (although I think I recall mention of Easter Hares :o!)

The other reason why I mention the hare is not as some sort of fertility symbol, but as a seasonal marker as in "look at the hares going at it. It'll be easter soon." A thousand years later we've got an easter bunny that delivers chocolate eggs with a bag of smarties inside them. Those things are more secular than they are pagan.

I hadn't thought of this either, but only because traditionally the date of easter each year was given to the flock on the 6th January, no doubt due to the variable calculations involved. And of course, where pagans are concerned, secularity is difficult to define.

Blackdragon

  • thegn
  • ***
  • Posts: 217
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2012, 10:36:11 PM »
Far be it for me as a modern day Pagan / Heathen to start quoting the Bible, but I seem to remember it says that hares chews the cud!

Leviticus 11.6 "And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof, is unclean to you."

I think somewhere else it refers to them laying eggs, but I cannot find it offhand. Anyone know?
Pete

dacecain

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2012, 08:31:55 AM »
I hadn't thought of this either, but only because traditionally the date of easter each year was given to the flock on the 6th January, no doubt due to the variable calculations involved. And of course, where pagans are concerned, secularity is difficult to define.

Having written this answer I realised that I may be putting too much thought into it. The simplest answer as to why Easter retained its pagan name could be because of the calculations involved to date the exact period of the resurrection each year. For the newly-converted pagan asking when the celebration was, the easiest answer to give would have been; “sometime in Easter” – and they simply became synonymous. :-\

Wulfric

  • Guest
Re: Anglo-Saxon Paganism
« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2012, 11:38:52 AM »
Hello all,

Quote
I concur hence my point about Hares being associated with easter symbology and something to do with hares shareing the landscape with a ground laying bird.

As hares would prefer pasture or wild meadow possibly lowland heath habitats they may well have been going through March Madness at the same time and in the same areas as the native (now extinct but being reintroduced) Great Bustard would have been going through their lekking. Great bustard are magnificent birds they look a bit like a metre tall turkey. As great bustards make their nests in small depressions out in the open they may well have competed for optimal nesting sites with hares...