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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in thunderer
Is a 3000-Year Old Swedish Petroglyph the Oldest Known Depiction of Thor?

Is a 3000-year old Swedish petroglyph the oldest known depiction of Thor?

Here's what Swedish science journalist Karin Bojs (sounds like “Boyce”) suggests in her highly engaging genetic study of Europe, My European Family: The First 54,000 Years:

The Vitlycke rock engraving includes a man driving...a two-wheeled chariot, clearly drawn by a horse. The man holds the horse's reins in one hand and a hammer in the other. Before him, a flash of lightning can be seen. The most likely interpretation is that the man is a thunder god—the Bronze Age counterpart of the god later known to the Vikings as Thor. The thunder god's attribute was an axe or a hammer, with which he would strike to produce thunder and lightning (296-7).

Is she right?

Well, the time and the place are right. The Vitlycke charioteer is one of tens of thousands of petroglyphs located on rock faces near Tanum, Sweden. Petroglyphs are notoriously difficult to date, but experts are agreed that these petroglyphs date mostly from the Scandinavian Bronze Age. We know that Scandinavia was populated by Indo-European speakers during this period, and that these petroglyphs are therefore a product of an Indo-European culture. The pantheons of virtually all IE cultures feature a divine Thunderer, often conceived of as a warrior, armed and riding in a two-wheeled chariot.

Take a close look at the petroglyph shown above. A horned man with a noteworthy ithyphallus drives what would appear to be a highly schematic chariot drawn by (apparently) a horned animal. If so, with apologies to Bojs, this is no horse, but would only strengthen the image's likely identity as a sort of proto-Thor, since Thor's chariot was said to be drawn by goats, and historically the goat is associated with the Thunderer across the Indo-European diaspora. At very least, one can say that, if this chariot is indeed drawn by a horned animal (instead of a horse with unusually elongated ears, say), we are likely in the realm of myth here. No one, after all, hitches an ox to a chariot.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    It does look like a snake, I agree, which made me think of sperm cells with their little wiggly tails. I suppose we'll never know
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Cool, I was an Art History Major back in the 80's.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    I agree that the animal looks more like a goat, and that the hands look like they are depicted with fingers, although the vajra al
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The head reminds me of another storm god: Set. I think I've seen depictions of both Teshub the Hittite storm god and Baal Hadad t
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Oof, that really does look like the Seth animal. Well, I wouldn't want to try to make a historical case for a connection, but it d

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Are You Coming to Thunderfest?

What with this summer's forthcoming Midwest Grand Sabbat, I've already got my hands full, but if I didn't, and were I inclined to throw a public festival, I know just what it would be.

“Thunderfest: A Meeting of Traditions.”

People know the Thunderer by many Names, but just about everyone honors Him, and rightfully so. Was it not likely the jolt of His lightnings that sparked the primal womb of Mother Earth and so gave rise to life? Is it not He Who gives us the rains that nourish our crops and feed us?

Such a festival would bring together those of different traditions who don't usually mingle, but probably should: heathens, Reconstructionists of various flavors, Afro-Diasporic folk. No matter who our people, we've all got Thunder in common—whatever you call Him—and swapping lore will only make us stronger.

Thunder, Þórr, Donar, Taranis, Perkunas, Perún, Zeus, Iuppiter, Xangó, Enlil, Ba'al Hadad, Indra....Thus, by His many Names, we'll invoke Him with a flashing libation of liquor on opening night, when we call to Him to ask for His blessing on our gathering, and—of course—for fair weather for the duration.

Throughout thee days of the festival, we'll sing for Him, dance for Him, and tell (and maybe enact) tales of His mighty deeds. Then, at the festival's crowning rite, we'll offer Him a goat, just like in the old days.

And that will be a feast to remember.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    "I'm your V-neck...." That's the Minnesota version.
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Yeah baby! She's got it!!!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I suppose that when we throw the Love Goddess festival you'll want to do Shocking Blue's "Venus"?
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Only if I can lead a procession of folks air-guitaring to AC/DC's "Thundsrstruck"!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Another thing about pagans: we have more fun with our religion(s) than anyone.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Thunder Prayer: Grand Sabbat 2018

On the first evening of this summer's Grand Convocation of the Midwest Tribe of Witches, we turned our faces to the West and chanted a prayer to Thunder (see below) asking for good weather during our get-together.

Among the gods, Thunder in particular is well-known to have a taste for hard liquor. At prayer's end, we poured out an entire bottle of Jameson whiskey in libation.

That, believe me, was a sacrifice felt by everyone.

Throughout the three following days of our gathering, the weather was absolutely beautiful.

During the feast on Sunday evening, we heard a roll of thunder from the north. A rainbow appeared in the eastern sky. This was followed by a second roll of thunder from the southern sky.

No rain, however, fell.

Monday afternoon, I had a phone message from a friend who had remained on-site, calling to report that (everyone having packed up and left), it had finally begun to rain.

Gently, as it happens.

If you ask me, the money laid out for that bottle of Jamie was money well spent.

Every single penny.

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If Pagans Had a Special Day of the Week, Which Would It Be?

The week, of course, is a collective fiction, and personally I say: Be damned to it.

But if, say, in proper Keeping-Up-With-the-Cowans mode, we wanted to pick a day of the week to be special to pagans, which would it be?

Oddly enough, Received Tradition does seem to speak with a uniform voice on the matter.

That day would be Thursday.

This makes sense. Thunder, great power that he is, was accounted chief of gods in most of the old pantheons, as well he might be: He of the Mighty Voice and Arm, “giver of both life and death.”

Some, indeed, offer to him each Thursday to this day. But more than this, the Lore across Europe counts Thursday a fortunate day: Lucky Thursday.

Take, for example—good old Carmina Gadelica—this charming rhyme from the Hebrides. I've tweaked it only slightly.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Children of Thunder

During a power outage, you can always tell where the pagans live.

Just look for the candlelight.

A big Thunderstorm blew through one night. Lights were out all over south Minneapolis.

My boyfriend at the time lived just down the street. I walked over. We undressed and stood holding each other.

He looked into my face.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Seven Inches of Sacredness

In my religion, snow is sacred.

Try to remember that.

It's late winter. It's been a cold winter, and winter in Minnesota is always too long. The Sun climbs higher in the sky every day, the buds are starting to swell, and the redbirds are singing their spring song (“Pretty bird! Pretty bird!”), but spring is still only a hope on the rose-red dawn horizon. We're coming up on the snowiest time of year.

So it's good to be reminded that snow is a gift.

We call Him Thunder for His Voice, but you could call Him Storm. In summer, He gives His good gift of rain; in winter, snow.

Ah, beautiful snow. Look closely and you'll see that it's actually every color but white. Snow is a wonder, so varied, so full of character: light, heavy, wet, dry, granular, fluffy. “The higher the snow, the higher they grow,” they say, meaning, of course, the crops. It's a true saying, too.

Against winter cold, snow makes the best insulation. That's the paradox of snow: it's cold, but keeps us warm.

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How Thunder Slew the Three-Headed Giant

They say there was once a three-headed giant named Motho.

Well, that's what they say.

You know giants: they're greedy. Motho just couldn't be content until everyone, everywhere, was his slave.

He went through the whole world, chaining the people. Wherever he went, balance was broken. Wherever he went, hatred and discord sprang up.

In time, it seemed as if he might enslave all the world. Then from their chains, the people called to mighty Thunder: men, women, and children, they called.

Mighty Thunder arose. His anger burned hot. He took up his lightning hammer and smote, smote, smote. He broke the baleful heads of Motho; he broke the chains that bound the people.

In this way, Motho was killed, and the world was freed from his tyranny.

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